It’s been almost seven years since the Fogg Library closed, and it shows. Wallpaper hangs from the high ceilings in some sections. It’s completely gone in others, revealing the water stains beneath, reminders of the extensive leaks that forced town officials to close the building.
The second floor is crowded with everything from an ornate wooden bookcase topped with a bust of Benjamin Franklin to the remains of an old lawn mower.
And its collection of books has sat frozen in time.
But Library Director Rob MacLean says all that’s about to change as the town prepares to renovate the interior of the Columbian Square building, the last step before it can finally reopen.
“It’s a great space and a great building,” MacLean said, adding that he still regularly fields questions from library patrons about when the South Weymouth branch will re-open. “People are just so anxious and it’s been so long that it’s hard to grasp that it’s really going to happen.”
The library building was built in 1897 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Last fall, the town completed a $1.7 million project funded through the Community Preservation Act to repair the building’s exterior.
The town has already set aside $650,000 for the interior renovation, the bulk of it from money paid to the town by the developers of SouthField, a residential and commercial development at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.
The town is still waiting for word on the final piece of funding, a $100,000 grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which should be announced next month.
MacLean said the renovation is expected to begin this fall and the goal is to have the library open by next summer.
“It’s about time,” said Town Councilor Michael Smart, a longtime advocate of renovating the library. “I know the residents will appreciate it.”
The planned work includes adding an elevator, repairing windows and converting the children’s space in the basement into public meeting rooms. The children’s area will be moved to a section of the first floor, while the third floor will house collections of historical documents.
The libraries are also planning a fundraising campaign to update the library’s collection, MacLean said.
“It’s really exciting,” MacLean said. “This isn’t what towns are doing now. They’re not restoring and opening branches. They’re closing them down.”
The excitement has also spread to book lovers.
Patty McMahon, a Braintree resident who works up the street at South Shore Hospital, said she’s never been in the library but spends her lunch break each day reading on a bench in front of the building.
“I can’t wait to see the inside,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”