Northeast Library Plants New Reading Garden

Posted May 17, 2010 at 3:06pm

The corner of Seventh and D streets Northeast smells like manure. Maybe that’s because a work crew at the Northeast Neighborhood Library just laid new mulch.

Workers at the 9,000-square-foot Georgian-revival-style building, a branch of the D.C. Public Library, are finalizing a $1.3 million exterior renovation project — complete with a newly landscaped 5,500-square-foot library garden. Visitors can now read on the patio in bistro chairs or in the shade of a magnolia tree.

For the past nine months, library patrons have been overseeing the project to restore the 78-year-old building. Project manager Chris Wright, a library employee, said renovations included painting a black iron ornamental fence that surrounds the library greens, replacing the wooden window frames and doors, re-pointing limestone and brick joints, and adding new outdoor lighting to increase security and prevent vandalism.

But one of the most exciting parts of the project, patrons said, is the addition of the new reading garden adjoining the library’s north side. Prior to landscaping, the area was closed to visitors. Now, it has elm, cherry and magnolia trees, newly planted bushes and budding flowers, three bistro table-and-chair sets, 12 wooden country-style chairs, and blue stone tiles for walking.

“Creating this reading garden allows outside story times for children and a welcoming space for outdoor readers,” library spokesman George Williams said. The library also may host events in the new garden space, Williams said. He said the new green room may attract more locals to the library — that is, if they can handle the smell of new mulch.