GREEN RIVER — Although the fate of the historic Green River Carnegie Library is still uncertain, the building’s stained glass windows might be removed in order to protect and restore them.
The ornate windows are more than a century old and have been damaged by age, heat and some vandalism. Plexiglass windows installed in the past to protect them actually caused problems by trapping heat.
During Tuesday’s regular meeting, Sweetwater County commissioners received information and heard a presentation on the condition of the three exterior stained glass panels and a proposal to address the situation.
A bid for removal and restoration of the antique windows has been submitted by Western Art Glass out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Gene Legerski, public works director for the county, led a discussion on the topic at the commission meeting.
Once removed, the windows cannot be reinstalled due to structural issues, Legerski said. The plan is to place the stained glass panels in a new, interior location yet to be determined. One option is to use the stained glass as a decorative display piece in a building. Commissioner Wally Johnson suggested the possibility of the Sweetwater County Justice Center, but encouraged Legerski’s department to do some research and come up with a recommendation since he is most familiar with the project and the size of the windows.
First, though, windows must be removed and then transported to Utah for restoration work. It will take from two to six months to repair them, Legerski said.
The bid came in at $4,600 for removal and $1,405.75 for repair. It does not include costs associated with reinstalling the stained glass in a new location or replacement of the removed windows. Commissioners expressed support for the project as well as a desire to determine the entire cost in order to be able to move forward.
Commissioner Jeff Smith asked about the possibility of securing grants for the project. Legerski said there are some grants out there that he is looking into.
Storm windows installed to protect the stained glass trapped heat during the summers, causing the panels to expand. Temperatures in the space in between could be three times that of the outside air, according to the bid document. This causes the metal to soften, resulting in a suction and swell effect to the stained glass panels. Then in winter, they would contract. In some places, windows started to bow.
If action is not taken on the large middle panel, individual glass pane pieces could crack and break, according to Western Art Glass. The antique glass is irreplaceable, the bid document states. Metal reinforcement was previously applied to the large main stained glass window, indicating that it has suffered strain, stress and/or signs of forced bowing and fatigue in the past.
Due to the earthquake in Salt Lake City in March, the bid proposal from Western Art Glass was delayed. The company had many stained glass windows to fix in the area, but a representative said they have learned a lot about restoring stained glass from the same era as the Carnegie Library.
The Green River Carnegie Library was dedicated on July 4, 1907, with 500 people attending the ceremony, according to the Alliance for Historic Wyoming website. It was constructed with a $20,000 Carnegie Public Library Building grant.
When the new Sweetwater County Library opened in Green River in 1980, the Carnegie building was used for circuit court. The building has been vacant for several years due to structural issues and safety concerns. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and its future remains unknown.
— Commissioners approved a certificate of appreciation to the Woman’s Club of Rock Springs for contributing handmade masks to the Veteran’s Service Office to be distributed to area veterans.
— The 2020 County Road Dust Control Project was awarded to Dustbusters Enterprisers Inc. out of Evanston for $157,247.50.
— The fiscal year 2020 CMAQ Dust Control Project, Magnesium Chloride Application, was awarded to Dustbusters Enterprisers Inc. for $419,531.80. Costs will be shared between the county and the Wyoming Department of Transportation with the county’s portion about $109,000.
— Commissioners approved a resolution supporting suggested protections for the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area as the Ashley National Forest updates its forest plan for the area.