Our View: Building should be saved

 

October 11, 2017



The Carnegie Library, or Green River Circuit Court building, has sat vacant for far too long and along with the U.P. Depot building downtown, deserves a better fate than what it has.

For generations, the building was a portal to the world for Green River’s residents. One of 16 libraries gifted to Wyoming towns by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the building was later utilized at a circuit court. Stained-glass windows helped create what was described as the most beautiful courtroom in Wyoming. After the circuit court moved to an addition to the Sweetwater County Courthouse, the building has been vacant. A sad fate.

We don’t deny the fact that work needs to be done on building’s foundation. Some additional renovation work will likely be needed if the building were to be reopened for public use. However, it’s a project that should have some consideration from the county commissioners.

Given that it’s a government-owned building, uses are somewhat limited. It could certainly be used as additional storage space, or a place to house the county’s archives. While those uses would be passable, it seems a waste to simply use it as such. It would have been a great space to consolidate county offices in Green River, but that option likely went out the window once the county purchased the old Rock Springs National Bank building.


Another option, aside from demolition at least, is for the county to sell the building. That would open up its possible uses and Jennie Melvin, director of the Green River URA/Main Street said it would be a great incubator space for businesses working to establish themselves in the city. However, the immediate question would be who would purchase the building, then invest to modify the space into something more business friendly. It’s a cost that we’re not sure anyone would be able or willing to tackle.

Demolishing the 112-year-old building would be a tragic end to a unique and historic building. That’s a fate we should fight against. It’s a fate members of this community, working with the city and county, should do their best to avert. The Carnegie Library building is an iconic part of Green River and would sorely be missed if the commissioners eventually decide to level it because the costs of maintaining it prove the be more than they’re willing to pay.

Destroying a generous gift like that would speak volumes about our priorities.

 

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