The old Price Hill library is getting a new look

The Price Hill Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, one of nine area libraries built with funds provided by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, is getting a makeover and an expansion.

The branch, which opened in 1909, is a French Renaissance style brick and limestone building with a roof with tin deck and slate slopes, fleur-de-lis grid over the doors, bird head door handles, and cherry wood shelves.

But last summer, the library was temporarily relocated to the Price Hill Recreation Center after a portion of the ceiling fell in and created major safety and structural problems.

The library hired architects to make necessary improvements to the branch, including making the building handicapped accessible. That began a process of identifying and prioritizing community needs to inform the plans for developing an improved branch library.

The architect’s vision was made public for the first time on September 12. It preserves the original Carnegie architecture and adds handicapped accessibility, increased parking, landscaping, green space, an open and inviting interior with a dedicated teen area, and meeting rooms.

Library staff and architects from Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., an engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, and construction management firm with offices in Blue Ash, were on hand to answer questions. The public event came after many conversations during community forums held earlier this year to uncover the needs and wants of the branch’s customers. Community input also was gathered about some of the design elements for the branch, such as opportunities for public art.

“We’re looking forward to re-opening a renovated, fully accessible branch that can better serve our customers, with quiet adult areas, spaces for children and teens, and more meeting space, while still maintaining the legacy of the building and honoring the community,” says library director Paula Brehm-Heeger.

The total cost of the Price Hill project is $6.6 million. In 2018, the taxpayers of Hamilton County approved a one-mill levy that will provide the library with $19 million a year from 2019 to 2028, for a total of $190 million. The library is engaging with the community and staff to create a Facilities Master Plan to guide a multi-year facilities improvement project it is calling Building the Next Generation Library. The project will be primarily supported with levy funds.

Projects to improve handicapped accessibility are the priority, and library officials connected with the local groups, including Design Impact and FTC&H to start the planning work to re-envision the Price Hill, Walnut Hills, and Madisonville branch libraries ensuring they are accessible to everyone. The structural issues at Price Hill meant that branch will be first to undergo improvements.

The library hopes to break ground on the Price Hill branch in November and to complete the renovation by late 2020.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.