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Chester County Press

Hall Building, Tubman mural to be razed to make way for new library

04/28/2021 09:21AM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

As the late July launch date for the construction of the Kennett Library & Resource Center at the corner of State and Willow streets in Kennett Square quickly approaches, it will require the removal of two buildings located on the back of the library’s property, which are projected to both come down in early May.

The first structure will be a small green house that has fallen into disrepair and has been condemned by the Kennett Borough. The other will be the Hall Building on 212 South Willow Street that once housed the Hope Chatham Lodge and a barbershop.

The Hall Building’s most prominent feature is the mural of Harriet Tubman that was added to the side of the structure in 2010, when artists Dave Mass and Joe Gothelf were commissioned to create a tribute to the legendary abolitionist, depicting Tubman leading freedom seekers by the light of a glowing lantern held in her right hand.

Although the removal of the mural will be one of necessity, the new library is not forgetting Tubman’s legacy and connection to Kennett Square. The new library will feature a new community mural that will honor Tubman and other members of southern Chester County’s rich cultural history on a wall next to a new parking lot that will be located at the rear of the new library.

In addition, the library’s Board of Trustees hosted two public meetings on its plans to clear the site, and told those in attendance that not only will Tubman will be memorialized on a new mural, local photographer Dylan Francis will photograph the current mural for posterity in the new library.

Kennett Library Board President Jeff Yetter worked with the members of Hope Chatham Lodge and the barbershop owners to find an appropriate space for them to relocate. The members of the Hope Chatham Lodge have formed a partnership with the Masonic Lodge 475 to meet in their lodge on Center Street.

“We were pleased to help the library move forward,” stated Hope Past Master Kenny Jackson. 

Eric Downs of Lodge 475 added, “We look forward to sharing our space and supporting both Lodge’s missions.” Prior to demolition, a cornerstone and time capsule from the Lodge was removed and preserved by the Masons.

The library’s Board of Trustees is also extending their thanks to Rob and Loren Pearson, who are donating their time and talent to take down the buildings. Loren is a Library Trustee and also serves as Vice Chair of the New Building Committee.

Estimated at $18 million, the new 31,485-square-foot library is projected to begin construction in late July and be completed in December 2022. By replacing the current 11,000-square-foot library on State Street that was built in 1961, the new facility will be able to offer the community a greater availability of live events, educational and cultural programs, technology and resources.

“For more than 125 years, the Kennett Library has been a vital resource for families throughout the region,” Yetter said. “It is a strong and viable community asset. We are working hard and look forward to continuing to meet the rapidly changing needs of our patrons.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].