Building Project

Most Recent Updates, as of June 2024

The exterior masonry of the addition has been moving along quickly and generating many positive comments from passers-by. The rough work for plumbing, electrical and HVAC is well underway throughout the building, and the transformer pad was approved by National Grid. An exterior delivery ramp at the rear of the building has been completed. The Lake Ave parking lot was re-done. If you have noticed a large stand-alone structure near the West Emerson entrance, that is a mock-up of a section of the building. As elements are added (like the window), it gets tested for any problems and to make sure that both the material and installation meet appropriate standards before they are installed in the real building. Once all the testing is complete, the mock-up will be removed. The roof is complete, and the copper gutters along the historic building look great! Windows have been installed, and work has just begun on the curtain wall. Work has also begun on the restoration of the historic fireplace, in the room that was the Browsing Room.

Take a look at some pictures of the progress!

Please read the background information below and check out our frequently asked questions (and answers!) page about this project. Take a look at the plans, and feel free to stop in at our interim location in the Beebe School on West Foster and ask questions!



On July 8, 2021, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners voted to move forward with a provisional grant for Melrose, pending approval of local funding from the City Council. The library staff were very excited about the possibility of improving access outside and inside the library, restoring/preserving our historic building, and enhancing services to the community through a renovation/expansion of the Melrose Public Library. The proposed project would include a modest expansion and better utilization of the existing space. The City chose to prioritize the library at this time due in part to a significant grant opportunity from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which is essential to the success of this project. On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, the Mayor hosted a public forum about the project, including informational slides.

The basis of the design and the application is the Library Building Program, which was created in 2015. It takes into consideration feedback from patrons and staff members regarding access and usage needs, as well as systems information from DPW (for roof, HVAC, etc.)

A community meeting was held in December 2016 and was reported on in an article by the Melrose Free Press.

The application (available at the library and online) was submitted in January 2017, with the approval and support of the Board of Trustees, the Mayor, and the Board of Aldermen. In July 2017, we were excited to learn that our application had been approved, and we were on the waiting list for funding. In July 2021, the MBLC awarded the provisional grant, provided that the City formally vote to commit the local funds needed.

On October 4, 2021, the Melrose City Council voted unanimously to support the library project, ensuring an accessible, modern library for future generations.

At that time, the architects and Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), who worked with the City to develop the original design and application, began collaborating with the Library Director, City Planner, library staff and building committee to refine and develop the initial plans.

As the design process moved forward, approvals were sought and received from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) at each stage. This process culminated in the approved Construction Documents being sent out to bid in August 2022. At the end of September, bids from the general contractors were due. Due to the volatile market, the two bids received were both above the budgeted amount. The City worked collaboratively with the Friends of Melrose Public Library and the Trustees of Melrose Public Library, aggressively pursued grant opportunities, and dedicated ARPA funding to fill the gap, allowing this important project to move forward.

Meanwhile, the School Committee graciously approved the use of the first floor of the Beebe School for library operations and storage for the duration of the construction project. The West Emerson library closed on Friday, August 12, 2022. Physical library services were suspended during the move, and re-opened at the Beebe School on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

In November 2022, the building was handed over to the contractor, Castagna Construction. A construction fence was installed around the perimeter of the property. Hazardous materials were safely removed from the building in preparation for demolition of the addition. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 11, 2023, formally kicking off the project.

After smaller, exploratory demolition tasks were performed, demolition of the addition began in earnest on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. It was a multi-step process that took several weeks, with materials separated out by type and disposed of accordingly. We appreciate the extra patience and goodwill of the neighbors during that noisy time!

As the demolition of the addition was underway, work was ongoing inside the historic building. This includes the painstaking restoration of the painted woodwork, which will be returned to its original unpainted condition. It promises to be beautiful!

Next, the area for the new addition was excavated and the concrete poured for the footings. The concrete portion of the walls were poured in the Fall of 2023. The year ended on an exciting note with the delivery and erection of steel for the addition.

2024 began with the pouring of concrete floors in the addition. Lighting was established 24/7 for safety and security reasons and plastic sheeting protected the building from the elements as well as providing some mitigation of the impact of extra lighting on the neighbors. Walls began to go up inside as well as out, and essential activities such as plumbing and electrical work continue. The Lake Avenue parking lot was excavated to allow for underground work to be done (don’t worry – it will be restored!).

The painted and restored historic windows have been put back in – if you look closely, you will see that they are now grey, which matches the original color on the building!

Exterior framing of the addition in Spring 2024 provided a big visual change for residents who pass by West Emerson. Roof work was nearing completion, and internal and external (rear) ramps had been poured. Internal stairs installed, and the interior wall framing was coming along quickly. The front steps from the original entrance were formed poured. Exterior masonry began in April.

Many thanks to Tappé Architects, Inc.; Municipal Building Consultants; the Friends of Melrose Public Library; the Library Board of Trustees; former Mayors Rob Dolan and  Paul Brodeur and current Mayor Jen Grigoraitis; Melrose Planning Director Denise Gaffey; the former Board of Aldermen and the current City Council; the Library Building Committee, and all the patrons and residents whose comments, feedback of all kinds, and encouragement have helped us get to this point.