Old Becomes New: Renovations Taking Place on the Old Ridgeview Library

Renovations at Old Ridgeview LibraryHICKORY – The City of Hickory has been working with Interfaith Housing, who has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley, to rehabilitate the old Ridgeview library building, making it a community center.

Habitat for Humanity began the rebuilding of homes in Ridgeview in 2000. “The Ridgeview community has the first zero energy house in North Carolina,” said Habitat for Humanity’s Executive Director Mitzi Gellman.

“Habitat worked in the Ridgeview community, tearing down older homes to build new homes, and with the City for so many years,” Gellman added. “We have really liked working in Ridgeview.”

Gellman stated that Habitat wanted to be involved with the old Ridgeview library to be able to bring the community closer to having this historical landmark rehabilitated.

An architecture firm was used, and Habitat brought in skilled volunteer labor to finish the inside, after the outside was completed. Jessie Barber, an AmeriCorps Volunteer, and Derek Ross, the Habitat Construction Supervisor, have been involved in this project, as well as four to five volunteers at any given time, working on the library rehabilitation. By Habitat being involved in this project, this saved Interfaith Housing $15,000 to $20,000. The outside rehabilitation of the library was handled by Moss Marlow Construction.

“The volunteers have really enjoyed it. It’s been a challenge for them,” Gellman said. “There’s trust in the work of Habitat’s volunteers to do this. I am proud for Habitat to be involved and the volunteers are honored to do this project.”

Gellman added, “We have roughly two and a half months of total time invested in restoring the library.” Habitat hopes to be done with the inside of the building by this summer.

Explaining the project details, Gellman said that the inside of the building has definitely changed. “We did a complete gut of the inside,” she said. “We added a handicap accessible bathroom to replace the old bathroom, a small office with a kitchen area, and covered up areas where there used to be stairs.” Gellman expressed that the priority to try to keep the pine paneling, so it was removed, stacked, stored, and reused. They are rebuilding the bookshelves and reusing the paneling. Habitat did whatever they could do to help preserve the history of the building. This new building will also be able to display artifacts and trophies from Ridgeview High School.

“This is one of those projects where you’re honored to be a part of it. There is a connection for people that grew up and lived in Ridgeview. This library is important to people. People grew up there, that’s the place they went. We wanted to make sure we preserved things the way people remembered them,” Gellman explained. “Additionally, we are so grateful for the City’s support. It was a great way for us to pay back for the City’s help.”

Gellman’s approach; pay it forward. She closed the interview saying, “Seldom do you have a chance to work on something where you get to pay it back and pay it forward on the same project.”

Last year, the City received a state Historic Preservation Grant with money from federal Historic Preservation funds to assist with the exterior rehabilitation. The total grant was $9,000. Additional matching funds of $12,150 were provided by Interfaith Housing and City of Hickory Community Development Block Grant funds. A $20,000 loan with an additional $30,000 grant of Community Development Block Grant Funds was provided to Interfaith Housing for the library rehabilitation. The CDBG funds will be used to purchase building materials, and complete the plumbing, mechanical and electrical work necessary to complete this project. Additionally, the City built a parking lot next door to the library.