The construction of the new Jackson County Main Library has been a community-driven project all along, and last week the community got its first glimpse of what the interior will look like.
Friends of the Jackson County Main Library held an open house at the old library to showcase the work of Lynne Wilson, the interior designer from Macmillan, Pazdan & Smith in charge of decorating both the historic courthouse and the attached library building.
Betty Screven of Friends of the Library said the event was a chance to share almost two years of work planning the library’s interior.
“We’re already picking out individual elements, and we wanted the public to be able to touch the carpet, to feel the fabrics, and really get excited about his new library,” Screven said. “This whole process has been finding out what the people of Jackson County want in their library, and this is the culmination of that.”
The Friends have raised $1,425,000 to outfit the interior of the building, and they’ve also worked hand in hand with Wilson to come up with a plan for the interior design.
“Lynne has come up with ideas and passed them by groups of people, and there’s been real discussion,” Screven said.
Wilson won a South Carolina historic preservation award for her work restoring an old firehouse in Newburg, and she has teamed with architect Donnie Love on a series of historic renovation projects. Those experiences, she said, have prepared her for the challenge of integrating the old Jackson County Courthouse with the newly constructed library building.
“The main thing was we wanted to keep the integrity of the existing courthouse, and we’re using a lot of those design motifs in the new part of the building,” Wilson said.
For example, the fretwork around the dome of the 1914 courthouse will be repeated in the patterns in the artisan metalwork railings on the second floor of the new building.
“The most fun part for me has been getting the input from the Friends of the Library and the community,” Wilson said. “It makes it easier to get the concepts right from the beginning when you have so many people who are so committed.”
The two spaces, old and new, are to be bridged by a glass atrium lobby that will incorporate the terraza floors and historic reproduction lighting fixtures that characterized the original courthouse.
The library will have a color scheme based in green that incorporates historic colors like the gold-hued Hubbard squash tone that is a favorite of Wilson and Love’s. The architectural showpieces of the new building are without question the stained-glass skylights that will adorn the ceiling of the new building, but the interior design showpieces will be the ornately decorated service desks that will incorporate the work of local artists.
“We were trying to think of ways to incorporate the local talent we have, but we didn’t want to fill the building with a permanent collection,” Screven said. “We thought the service desks would be perfect.”
Artists like Smoky Mountain High School’s Dylan Llassiah and local muralist Doreyl Ammons Cain submitted work for consideration by Wilson and her staff. Llassiah’s tiles representing the seven clans of the Cherokee and Ammons’ 16-by-8-foot heritage mural were two of the projects selected for posterity.
The 26,000-square-foot renovation and construction project has been a massive undertaking, but with the design team already picking out furniture for the building, Jackson County residents can be sure their new library is nearly a reality.
To learn more about the project, visit www.fojcml.org/new-library.html.