NAPA — Bookshelves have been stacked into a single cube and wrapped in plastic. A strip of tape on a glass-door wall cabinet reads “DEMO,” pointing to its removal to expose a long-hidden wall. And underfoot is temporary flooring of black plastic and Masonite, a springy wood-fiber board protecting century-old tiles from the construction to come.
More than 2 ½ years after the South Napa earthquake fissured the historic Goodman Library on Aug. 24, 2014, a $1.75 million restoration has begun at the downtown landmark.
Pre-repair preparation started April 3 and work is expected to last through the end of the year, according to the lead contractor, Alten Construction Inc. of Richmond.
For the next nine months, workers will inspect and repair damage to the Goodman Library’s interior, its twin stone-block walls and a parapet tower that has been encased by a boxlike metal sleeve for stability. The city-owned library, which opened in 1901 and has been leased to the Napa County Historical Society since 1976, also is slated for a new roof and reinforcement of its roof trusses.
Some of the repairs will take place from the inside out in order to learn how deeply exterior damage runs, according to Eric Onick, Alten Construction’s project manager at the Goodman. The “investigative demolition” will involve dismantling interior plaster on the opposite side of cracks in the façade, then replastering the walls after repairing the stone work. Wooden fixtures and trim also will be numbered and cataloged before being temporarily removed to clear space for other repairs, he said Tuesday.
Also set for cataloguing during the repair are exterior blocks, including those that fell or were dislodged from the force of the magnitude-6.0 quake.
The Goodman Library, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, also will receive mortar, grout, and other materials appropriate to its early 20th-century vintage, according to Mike Berger, a senior civil engineer in the city Public Works Department.
Street closures during reconstruction are not expected except possibly for the removal of the containment box holding the damaged roof tower upright, Berger said. In October 2015, Napa closed a block of First Street to allow a crane-truck operator to slip the 12-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide metal sleeve over the tower.
Century-old wooden lath strips remained visible through a few foot-long shards of missing plaster during a Tuesday visit, and numerous bands of blue tape crisscrossed the walls around the stairway, both marking and stabilizing cracks. But Ian Kessler, Alten’s assistant superintendent in Napa, declared the road to restoration a relatively smooth one – in large part because of bracing the library building received in the mid-2000s against an earthquake.
“Aside from the cracks, and a couple doors that don’t quite close right, it looks pretty good,” he said. “The seismic reinforcement that was done before is the reason this building is still standing.”
Named for the local banker George Goodman, who donated land and funds for the building, the Goodman housed Napa County’s main library before the current reading room opened on Coombs Street in 1974.
Forced from the building after the quake, the historical society first opened an appointment counter on First Street before shifting its offices, as well as part of its collection, to Tulocay Cemetery inside the Juarez building in November 2016.
Under federal and state guidelines for disaster relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is slated to reimburse Napa 75 percent of the $1.75 million restoration cost, with the state Office of Emergency Services covering another 18.75 percent and the city the rest.