Plans progress for Wilson College library addition

CHAMBERSBURG >> Chambersburg Planning and Zoning Committee has approved the final land development plan for an addition to be constructed to the John Stewart Memorial Library at Wilson College.

The $12 million project is scheduled to begin as early as July and the library is scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2015.

Some challenges from previous land development plans include an upgraded water and gas lines, but they are being looked at, according to Phil Wolgemuth, land use and development director for the borough.

The plan involves restoring the original building, completed in 1925. The 1961 annex will be demolished and replaced with an updated three-story annex and a commons area.

Wilson College President Barbara Mistick told the committee that she was excited to see the “wonderful academic quad” that would be developed on the college.

The building was closed in fall 2011 when the heating system failed. A temporary library was established in the lower level of Lenfest Commons.

As previously reported by the Public Opinion, the college has been working with the state historic preservation office to keep the historic nature of the building.

In April, a land use permit was issued to demolish the annex. The next step in the plan is permitting the relocation of utilities in preparation for demolition, according to Wolgemuth.

Wilson College, founded in 1869 as a women’s college that recently became coeducational, has a fall enrollment of 662, which includes students from 20 states and 14 countries.

Lauren Cappuccio can be contacted at 262-4754.

Razing Library Annex is Next at Wilson College

By Jim Hook @JimHookPO on Twitter

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has concluded that the design for the addition to the library at Wilson College is OK. “The proposed project will have no adverse effect” on the Wilson College Historic District, according to Douglas McLearen, chief of the Division of Archaeology and Resources. He wrote the June 9 letter stating his position after alumna Margaret Killmer of Yarmouth, Maine, had written the PHMC. Killmer said that the proposed addition would overwhelm the original structure, built in 1925.

Kilmer had suggested that the college renovate the existing annex built in the 1960s. The flat-roofed annex is to be demolished in the next couple of days. The proposed addition is larger than the original library, but it does not detract from the original facade or historic orientation because it is located at the rear of the library, according to McLearen. The stone used in the addition is compatible with the original, and the large windows distinguish the addition from the original.

McLearen said he considered the entire historic district — which includes 28 buildings, walkways, lamp posts and landscaping. PHMC does not have a regulatory role in the project since no federal funds are being spent on the $12 million expansion. McLearen’s letter answers Killmer’s objections in detail.

See “The architects, Murray and Associates, have been working with the PHMC for some time, so it really comes as no surprise to us that the design was approved,” said Brian Speer, vice president of marketing and communications at Wilson College. “We are looking at a mid-August groundbreaking with the building scheduled to open for the fall 2015 semester.”

The Stewart Library was closed in 2011 when the heating system failed. Students have been using a temporary arrangement in Lenfest Commons. Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759.