Oakwood’s historic Wright library nears private fund goal for $5M renovation

Crews work on renovations to the basement of the Wright Memorial Public Library Thursday April 22, 2021. JIM NOEKLER/STAFF
Caption
Crews work on renovations to the basement of the Wright Memorial Public Library Thursday April 22, 2021. JIM NOEKLER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

OAKWOOD – Wright Memorial Public Library has reached more than 90% of its $1.5 million capital campaign goal to renovate the historic site, a project now underway.

The $5 million public/private venture will include work on more than 80% of the Far Hills Avenue facility that is on the National Register of Historic Places, library Director Kristi Hale said.

The latest six-figure commitment to the library’s Making an Impact capital campaign was a $150,000 gift from The Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of The Dayton Foundation, officials said.

Wright Memorial Public Library has reached more than 90% of its $1.5 million capital campaign goal to renovate the historic site. Construction crews are now work on a entrance in the back of the building. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
Wright Memorial Public Library has reached more than 90% of its $1.5 million capital campaign goal to renovate the historic site. Construction crews are now work on a entrance in the back of the building. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The campaign is about $50,000 short of its goal, which “means that we’re going to be able to execute this project within our budget and have the revenue to complete it the way it needs to be completed,” Hale said.

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The Eichelbergers were longtime Oakwood residents. Jack Eichelberger was a prominent Dayton attorney and real estate entrepreneur, according to the library. Sally Eichelberger was a member of the Dayton Women’s Club.

Library leaders have been “truly overwhelmed by and grateful for the community’s support;” Wright Library Foundation Board President Elaine Gounaris said in a statement announcing the Eichelberger foundation’s contribution.

Those funds will be combined with money from a 1.5-mill levy passed by 67% of voters last year, officials said.

The levy is expected to generate $474,307 annually and will help continue 2018 preservation work financed by $500,000 in donations, Hale has said.

The work three years ago renovated the “historic part” of the building, she said.

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The 81-year-old library named after Orville and Wilbur Wright, as well as their sister Katharine, opened in 1939 and was placed on the national registry in 2013.

It will remain open during construction, but the lower level is closed as part of Phase I, which is expected to be completed in July, Hale said.

The renovation’s second phase will include closing parts of the upper level, she added.

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“We have a very small new construction addition for a new vestibule and conference room,” Hale said.

“The project was largely to stay within our existing footprint. But we have this small addition so we can reopen the east entrance and make a code compliant entryway,” she added.

The renovation is expected to be completed near the end of 2021, Hale said.

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