Streator library dome gets repairs to its exterior

Project not part of mural restoration; but key to taking the next step in maintaining library

Contractors are working on top of the Streator Public Library’s rooftop this week to repair the exterior of the facility’s iconic dome.

Shingles were removed from the dome, so a sticky adhesive could be placed inside to seal it and make sure no water gets in. After a recent rainstorm, there was significant leaking. The exterior of the dome suffered storm damage in April 2013 and has been in need of repair, said Library Director Cynthia Maxwell.

Asphalt roofing shingles will be placed on the outside to make the dome appear the same. Maxwell anticipates the work will be done by Thursday.

She said the library paid for the majority of the project already, noting it is not part of the mural restoration project.

In November 2020, library trustees hosted representative from Parma Conservation, a Chicago mural preservation company, to view the murals underneath the library’s rotunda. The cost of the restoration of the murals is estimated to be $130,000, according to David Reed, Library Board President.

The oil on canvas murals in the library’s rotunda were painted by Chicago artist Gustav Fuchs and were completed in December of 1905. To the trustees’ knowledge, the murals have never been cleaned since they were installed. Severe smoke damage occurred to the murals in 1945 when the library had a fire in the boiler room.

The library board believes it can get a grant to provide 50% of the funding for the restoration project, but it would need to raise the other 50% (roughly $65,000) in a fund at the time the grant is applied for to qualify.

Reed said a second phase of restoration also is proposed. The library board is seeking estimates to install lighting and renovate the interior dome.

Maxwell said getting the exterior work done on the dome is crucial to launching the mural restoration project and ensuring the dome is maintained.

“In two years, we will celebrate 120 years,” Maxwell said. “We’re hoping to have the work done on everything so we can celebrate in style and preserve this building for 120 more years, because it is a special place.”

The library, which is a Carnegie library, is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.