Fulton Commissioners Approve $200,000 Grant For Wauseon Library Restoration Project

Archbold HS WEBBy: James Pruitt

Efforts to restore the foundation of the Wauseon Library will begin in earnest after action by the Fulton County Commissioners.

The board approved an application for a $200,000 grant to help pay for costs associated with the project. The work will include Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades along with work on replacing the 111-year-old foundation.

Library Director Amy Murphy was at the meeting to plead the case for the grant. The library is one of the original Carnegie libraries, built in 1905. The superstructure is sound, but the foundation has several shortcomings, she said.

“It is cracking and crumbling,” Murphy said. “When we did core drilling, we found that in 1905 there weren’t a whole lot of standards of what went into a foundation.”

What officials found beside concrete was gold paint, salt, coal and lots of space where it wasn’t mixed, Murphy said. Builders used parts of an old school and paint from an old county project. All the work is well documented because the building is a Carnegie, she said.
The because the foundation has to be restored and the building has been grandfathered in on many codes, the library will have to install a new elevator, stairs, ADA-compliant restrooms for the meeting area.

“Once we start, we will be doing many, many, many things,” Murphy said.

The library tried to be a match for the city’s downtown revitalization grant, but because it wasn’t a private business, state officials had to look for discretionary grants. The state grant will act as a match for the $1 million to $1.5 million price tag for all renovations, Murphy said.

“We will always accept funding,” Murphy said in response to whether library had done any fundraising.

The work will start on the exterior first with the foundation, roof and tuck pointing, because all that has to be completed first. Next is the elevator and then the restrooms.

“It will be an ongoing process,” Murphy said. “So we are always looking for additional funding.

From the ground up, the building’s superstructure is considered strong by the architects and engineers, Murphy said. However, from the ground down around four feet, is where the weakness is found, she said.

“But it will be a big project, but because we are one of the original Carnegies, we want to maintain our history. We want to maintain our historical building here in Wauseon.”

The library is not listed on the Historical Register because of an elevator added in 1978, which significantly altered the building, Murphy said. The library board has been committed to the building and made a decision not to look for a new home when it added the Children’s section nine years ago, she said.

“They made the commitment they are committed to the Carnegie, committed to the downtown,” Murphy said.

Because the problem is in the basement, no one can see the problem, Murphy said.

“No one really knows what our foundation looks like until you get the full basement tour,” Murphy said. “Then you realize how desperate we have to renovate and take care of our foundation.”

Wauseon Schools sought out Carnegie for a library in 1903 after running out of vacant buildings, Murphy said. The superintendent at the time knew Andrew Carnegie’s secretary and asked if the school get money from the philanthropist.

The library has a letter from the Carnegie Foundation that said if the school could raise the money ($1,100) for the land, Carnegie would write them a check for the building, she said.

In other news, the commissioners:
-Approved Change Order 1 for Fairgrounds Elevated Water Tank THM Reduction System Project Change order for an increase of $765.90 in labor and materials for the removal of the interior contents of the tank

-Approved a grant extension to complete survey, reports, and schedules for ditch improvement 2119-Trowbridge. The county has the second most number of ditches in the state. The process includes having residents petition the county to have the surveys done and then if approved, residents pay for the work and then are assessed a fee to replenish the fund for any future work. The ditches help drain the county which was once covered by the Black Swamp.

James Pruitt may be reached at

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