New Orleans, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City officials announced the start of renovations to the Cita Dennis Hubbell Branch Library at 725 Pelican Avenue in the Algiers Point Historic District. This $1.3 million restoration will fully refurbish the 105 year old building which has been closed since 2008.
“As one of our oldest libraries, the Cita Hubbell branch has served generations of New Orleanians in Algiers Point,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward in restoring this historic structure and returning this vital asset to the Algiers’ community. It will complement the five new libraries opened in the last five months.”
The Algiers Branch at 725 Pelican Avenue was originally built in 1907. It was one of five New Orleans libraries established with money from Andrew Carnegie. For almost sixty years, it served as the only public library on New Orleans’ west bank but was closed in 1966 due to deterioration and to make way for the new Algiers Regional Branch approximately four miles away. Neighborhood residents, led by Cita Dennis Hubbell, successfully lobbied the City of New Orleans to repair and reopen the branch in 1975 as the Algiers Point Branch, with a capacity of 20,000 books. After Mrs. Hubbell’s death, the City of New Orleans rededicated the library as the Cita Dennis Hubbell Branch in 2002. In 2005, the library survived Hurricane Katrina mostly intact but was closed to the public in 2008 due to moisture and termite damage to the roof.
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, “This is a great day for Algiers and the surrounding areas! Neighborhood libraries like Cita Hubbell are very important since they serve as a community resource center for all of our residents – especially for our children and families. Cita Hubbell library is incredibly special in that it is one of the five Carnegie-funded libraries built in New Orleans at the turn of the Century. I, along with the residents of Algiers and all of District C, appreciate place-based development projects, like this one, where the City has worked diligently to preserve the historical integrity of the building and of the neighborhood.”
City Council President Stacy Head said, “Built in 1907, the Cita Dennis Hubbell Library is not only a building that contains historical information, it is part of the history of our city. I know we all look forward to the renovations of New Orleans’ oldest public library so that history and today’s technological innovations can be united in this one building.”
Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “Algiers is so grateful to the Administration and Council for restoring one of our very special libraries again in one of our most historic buildings, where so many of us from Old Algiers remember going as children. Cita Dennis Hubbell was our savior who brought it back the first time. This is in her honor and a tribute to Algiers!”
Renovations to the library will include a new roof, lighting and fixtures, storefront entry vestibule, HVAC system, flooring, windows, fire alarm system and electrical code upgrades. The library’s historic features, like its masonry walls and iron gate, will also be fully restored.
Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development Cedric Grant said, “For over a century, this library has stood as an important gathering place for the residents of Algiers Point. The City is committed to preserving this historic library so that it may once again enrich the lives of the young and old alike.”
City Librarian Charles Brown said, “As City Librarian, I am delighted that Algiers Point residents will soon have their permanent library back in operation. I am also pleased that one of the two remaining, and historic, libraries donated to the City by industrialist and library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie will soon reopen, offering library services for the 21st century.”
FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Executive Director Joe Threat said, “As the city’s oldest public library, the Hubbell Library holds an important place in both New Orleans’ past and future. Taxpayers’ dollars, in the form of FEMA grants, will support local recovery efforts in restoring this century-old library to its place of permanence once again.”
Total funding for this project is approximately $1.3 million, coming from City bond funds and FEMA public assistance. Construction on the library will be completed in spring 2013.