Repairs to Iconic Structure Designed to Provide Long-Term Results

Albright Memorial Library

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Historic Library Preservation

Project Profile

Project Background

  • Built circa 1891, this iconic library was dedicated by John Joseph Albright as a memorial to his parents
  • Building was designed by the noted architectural firm of Green and Wicks; the landscaping layout was done by Frederick Law Olmstead
  • Exterior walls are clad with Indiana Limestone over a Brown Modina Stone base
  • The distinct look of the exterior veneer was influenced by the French monastery Musee de Cluny
  • The library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978
  • Years of excessive water infiltration accelerated the corrosion of the steel strap anchors that provide lateral support to the exterior stone veneer, leading to the development of multiple spalls in the stone that created unsafe conditions

Project Challenges

  • The library remained open during the entire restoration project, with continuous access to the main entrance at the front and the elevator at the rear
  • The large limestone copings at the dormers and gables were set with an extreme slope, which made it difficult to access, remove, and reinstall the heavy stone
  • The landscaping is a vital part of the building’s legacy that required careful attention throughout the project
  • Many of the windows are filled with ornate stained glass that needed to be properly protected
  • Replacement of cracked stone pieces at the large rose window required the removal and reinstallation of several stained glass pieces

Project Approach

  • Eliminating water infiltration into the exterior wall was of paramount importance; new flashing was installed under the copings and 100% repointing of all mortar joints was completed
  • Scaffolding was installed on the majority of the building walls, and cranes were used to remove and reinstall the large copings
  • The slope of the dormers and gables required the design of a new anchorage system to allow for the installation of continuous flashing under the copings while also properly anchoring the copings
  • At all spall locations the corroded strap anchors were removed and new stainless steel anchors were installed

“When charged with the preservation of Scranton’s most beloved architectural treasure, nothing could be taken for granted. But it soon became obvious that we were in good hands. The skilled craftsmen and dedicated management of MPS put all worries to rest. The project was completed on time and within budget, and the future of the library is guaranteed for decades to come.”

Jack Finnerty
Scranton Public Library

This project was supported in part through a grant from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania Department of Education, with funds provided from the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund.