Library Cupola Unveiled

Garrett Faulkner

The Georgetown Library, ravaged by fire in 2007, is one step closer to its long-awaited capstone ceremony.

In a way, though, the capstone has already been laid in. The rebuilt cupola, the familiar tube-shaped dome crowning the library and a widespread collection of other federal and colonial buildings in the city, received its finishing touches last week, perhaps the surest sign that the library is on track for its reopening this October. The tower is nearly identical to the original structure, save for some slight modifications to the copper roof and other nominal changes.

“I’m thrilled beyond belief that the cupola has been recreated,” said Jerry McCoy, special collections librarian for the library’s Peabody Room, which houses historical documents and artifacts and sustained considerable damage during the fire. “It’s beautiful to behold.”

There was a little less pomp this time around, and certainly no formal celebration, unlike the cupola framework raising in January, which turned out dozens of Georgetowners, Mayor Fenty, Councilmember Jack Evans and the bulk of ANC 2E. But that was just the skeleton of the library’s most recognizable symbol, and though the crowd signed the cold piping in marker and waved their hard hats when it was finally plunked into position, there was still a feeling that the end was a long way off. The neighborhood needed a little extra levity.

Now, the end is in sight. The newly renovated library will feature an expanded children’s library and ample community meeting space downstairs. The Peabody Room will also be revamped, and McCoy will contribute its first new artifact: the burnt, twisted weathervane from the original cupola.

“[It] was bent by the 2000-degree heat,” he said. “It’s in two pieces and I plan to install it on the wall some place in the new Peabody room. It’s pretty dramatic looking.”

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Wed, 1 Oct 2014 22:21:37 -0400

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