Library ceiling piece falls

  • Damaged ceiling in the Greenfield Public Library on Thursday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Town maintenance workers clean up plaster after a section of ceiling at the Greenfield Public Library collapsed Thursday morning. Contributed photo—

Recorder Staff
Thursday, December 28, 2017

GREENFIELD — Reading is through the roof this winter at Greenfield Public Library, literally. As patrons browsed DVDs Thursday morning, a section of plaster ceiling fell in a cloud of dust.

“Those, we believe, are the original lathe slats,” said Library Director Ellen Boyer Thursday, pointing to a four-foot-square section of exposed ceiling just inside the main entrance.

Earlier in the day, as town maintenance workers were removing a teetering light fixture, the plaster fell away from the section filling the space with “tons of plaster dust,” Boyer said.

The historic library on Main Street has seen its share of repairs. It was originally built in 1797 by George Hovey, affluent resident, as a lived-in mansion, according to a document from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

A hundred years later, the town converted the building into a library. Since then, maintenance has been done as needed, Boyer said.

“Yesterday, a patron happened to look up and told a librarian he thought the light was about to fall off,” Boyer said. Town electricians, who were called soon after, said they thought the ceiling would fall with the light removed, but Boyer “decided it was more dangerous to leave it up.”

“No one was hurt or injured. We moved everything away, there was a drop cloth underneath it,” Boyer said. “It was a controlled demolition.”

At 3 p.m., the section remained roped off below. Boyer said she’s not yet sure how it will be repaired, but said she suspects central maintenance will reach out to a third party contractor who’s experienced repairing old buildings for advice.