Historic Oakwood library completes yearlong $5 million renovation

The Wright Memorial Public Library finished a $5 million renovation including the basement, which has been turned into the children's library. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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The Wright Memorial Public Library finished a $5 million renovation including the basement, which has been turned into the children's library. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

OAKWOOD — Wright Memorial Public Library has completed a yearlong, $5 million renovation project that will allow visitors to enjoy improved disability access, a new children’s section, and expanded community meeting spaces.

The $5 million venture included work on more than 80% of the library on Far Hills Avenue, funded with a tax levy generating $3.8 million, as well as $1.5 million in private donations. The 1.5-mill levy was passed with support from 67% of voters in 2020. The library worked with Dayton architects LWC Inc. and Danis Construction to complete the project.

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The new children's area in the Wright Memorial Public Library has large window allowing light to stream into the space. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The new children's area in the Wright Memorial Public Library has large window allowing light to stream into the space. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

caption arrowCaption
The new children's area in the Wright Memorial Public Library has large window allowing light to stream into the space. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

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Improvements include a new roof, modernized HVAC systems and elevators, Wi-Fi and cell signal boosters, improved disability-accessible parking, and sidewalks to a new second entrance near Katharine Wright Park.

A small two-story addition includes a conference room on the main floor and a vestibule in the lower level, where patrons can make returns and pick up books and materials from a holds locker from 6 a.m. to midnight. The holds pickup locker is contactless, requires a library card swipe, and can be used even when the library is closed.

The basement has been dedicated to a children’s room and a section for teens, including a story time corner and children’s terrace for outdoor programming. Two backlit stained glass windows were relocated from the upper floors, and a third was added from donated stained glass.

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The Oakwood Wright Library has undergone a yearlong restoration project, opening to the public April 2. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The Oakwood Wright Library has undergone a yearlong restoration project, opening to the public April 2. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

caption arrowCaption
The Oakwood Wright Library has undergone a yearlong restoration project, opening to the public April 2. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

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Built in 1939, the library is named after Wilbur and Orville Wright, as well as their sister Katharine, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Wright Memorial Library has expanded several times in its 81-year history. However, one of the goals of the new project was to streamline each section into one historic and usable building.

“This community really values that history. Everybody feels that connection here, and that’s why we paid so much attention to bringing that historic feel deeper into the building,” said library director Kristi Hale. “I feel like the Wright family is very alive in this building and that we have set this building up for another 80 years. Not only preserving that history, but also making it usable and functional as a community space.”

The library will host a a community open house from 2 to 4 p.m. April 2 so patrons can explore the renovated library, enjoy entertainment and activities, and learn about library services.

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