Commission approves renovation plans to library after month-long deadlock

The Farmington Town Plan and Zoning Commission approved Yale’s revised renovation proposal for the Lewis Walpole Library Monday night, ending a disagreement between the commission and the University over the architectural details of the building.

In a unanimous vote, the commission granted Yale permission to begin work on the library, which houses a rare collection of 18th-century British literature. A previous design was rejected on March 13 because the commission felt that it did not complement the neighborhood’s historical character.

Walpole Librarian Margaret Powell said she was pleased with the commission’s decision. On its recommendation, University Planner Laura Cruickshank added details to the building’s proposed facade in order to make it appear more rustic.

“Laura Cruickshank and I are delighted that the Lewis Walpole Library and the town have come to such a successful conclusion,” Powell said.

The library, which was originally built from a house and barn, will be renovated to add work space, climate controls, and accessibility for visiting scholars. Its collection includes 32,000 books, 30,000 prints and a large compilation of manuscripts and art pieces.

Though Yale’s original plan was certified by the Farmington Historical District Commission in December, University architects will have to submit the revised design to the commission next week. But Powell said she does not anticipate any further disagreements with the town, and construction will likely begin in early May. The library has already closed to prepare for the renovation, and will not reopen until work is completed in summer 2007.

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