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Murray Journal

Historic Murray Carnegie Library gets a second chance

Mar 21, 2019 05:27PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The historic Murray Library, foreground, has been purchased, and plans are being made to renovate it. The First Ward Chapel’s future is still unknown. (Photo courtesy of Preserve Murray)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Getting a breath of new life, the historic Murray Carnegie Library (184 East Vine Street) has been sold, and a new owner plans to restore the library to its former glory. Last year, a judge halted demolition and major remodeling of the library and the historic Murray First Ward chapel after preservationists sued the city.

The buyer, Gloria Kummer, posted inquiries on Facebook seeking old photographs of the building. “I'm in the process of purchasing the Carnegie Library in Murray for the use of my interior design firm (Gloria Hayley Interior Design). My desire is to renovate and restore the historical building.” 

Built in 1911, as part of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie’s efforts to provide libraries to communities that would provide a financial commitment to support them, the library has always functioned outside the Salt Lake County Library System. The neoclassical building was expanded in 1979, which included modification of the original entrance. It later was sold to Mount Vernon Academy, along with the Murray First Ward building.

Janice Strobell, who is part of Preserve Murray, a nonprofit organization whose mission is preserving and restoring Murray historical landmarks, stated, “Gloria's attention to detail is greatly evident in her line of work, and to have her apply that attention to the renovation of the Carnegie Library will be a huge asset for our community. This project can be a major kick start for many more exciting renovation efforts in Murray's historic downtown. We applaud Gloria and her team's tireless work of not taking shortcuts as they seek for every detail to complement the original architectural beauty of this building.”

Kummer, who specializes in classical interior architecture and design, is on the board of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Arts, and among her clients is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In her desire to restore the library to its pre-expansion days, Kummer has put out a call for photographs that can assist her renovation work. 

“It could be a family photo showing a detail of the shelving and interior elements. My goal is to have the interior restored to look like the library, which would also function for my firm due to the many fabric samples we put on shelving,” posted Kummer. “The original doors, metal grate transom, exterior lights, and windows were removed in the 1970s. Did anyone, by chance, save these items? I can't imagine the contractors would throw them out. Maybe there is a family out there that has them. I plan to restore the original facade.”

According to Strobell, “This is a wonderful example of adaptive reuse where the integrity of the building is not compromised and the planned uses meet valuable needs for the community — both for Gloria's design company and her desire to provide space for members of our community that are too often overlooked. We wholeheartedly support this endeavor and urge the community to express to our Murray City leaders the value of extending this revitalization vision throughout our historic downtown corridor. We are excited for the future of downtown Murray."

Next door, the future of historic Murray First Ward is still uncertain. A group of Murray residents has set up a domestic nonprofit corporation, the Historic Murray First Foundation, for the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of the historic Murray First Ward Church on Vine Street. The nonprofit’s founding is a direct response to attempts to demolish the 111-year-old Gothic church.

The foundation will hold a series of lectures regarding the history of Murray architecture and the historic church on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Murray Public Library (166 E. 5300 South) starting April 11 and running through May.