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Inside the Pulaski Library

January 31st, 2013

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Rochester’s Pulaski Library (originally the Hudson Avenue branch) was the second permanent library constructed by the City. As explained here external link, the library was closed in 1994, and has sat unused until last week when the City opened the doors to potential buyers. If you’re interested, the City wants your proposal external link by March 4. $1,000 to buy it, but you’ve got to show you’ve got a serious plan to rehab the property. Historic tax credits and grants could help take a bite out of the million dollars it could cost you when all is said and done. If you missed the open house, here’s a look inside…

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Prior to construction at the corner of Hudson and Norton Avenues external link, the library system consisted of twelve temporary sites and the newly constructed permanent Monroe Avenue branch.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
In 1931, 46 Polish organizations and churches from this densely populated Polish community petitioned to have the branch named after Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General Casmir Pulaski, a native of Poland who journeyed to America to join the war for independence.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Pulaski, who was with General Washington at Valley Forge, was killed in a charge at the battle of Savannah in 1779.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
In 1929, President Herbert Hoover declared October 11 a national holiday to honor Pulaski on the 150th anniversary of his death.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The City turned down the request to name the library after General Pulaski saying it would ruin the precedent of naming branch libraries after the building location. Although they were turned down, citizens were allowed to mount a big bronze plaque on the library wall in honor of General Pulaski. Hidden inside the wall behind the plaque was included a time capsule with mementos from the Polish community.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
50 years later, in 1981 the Polish community again petitioned the City. This time their name change request was approved. And, on the library’s 50th anniversary the time capsule was removed from the wall. I’m guessing that hole in the wall over the door (shown above) was where the plaque and time capsule were located.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Newspaper accounts indicate that this library was larger than most of the other libraries because it was expected to be busy due to its proximity to the new, and very large, Benjamin Franklin High School.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The library is a tall one-story building with the exception of a small second story office over the rear entrance foyer (shown above).

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The full basement is accessible via several sets of stairs – one of which is hidden behind this book case.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
This stairway was known as the “secret passageway” and led to the children’s Story Hour Room located in the basement.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
A children’s poster on the wall – probably here since the early 1990′s.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The basement…

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
An interior window in the darkest area of the basement.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Looking up inside a dumbwaiter elevator shaft, once used to move books between the three levels.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The main stair case from the basement to the first and second floors.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
A view through a window of the rear of the building.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Random pieces like doors and book shelves are scattered throughout.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
Some closets and the first floor access to the dumbwaiter system on the right.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The main desk, furniture, trim work, and book cases look to be solid oak. And maybe not too far gone, given all the moisture.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
A bay window and fireplace mantel hidden behind a pile of broken furniture in what was once the children’s section.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
The concrete floors are covered with a slushy mix of ice, water, and debris.

Inside Rochester's Pulaski Library. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]
According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form on this building from 2001, “The Pulaski Library has for 70 years been a city landmark and source of pride for local residents of Polish heritage.” What does it say about us as a community if this is how we treat our most prized landmarks?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 7:55 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

13 Responses to “Inside the Pulaski Library”

  1. The state of this place is very sad. How does one get to tour such historic places? Drop me a line next time you get to explore a building in Rochester!!

  2. Patty Uttaro says:

    Thank you for featuring this story. The interior of the library actually looks better in the pictures you show than it did when I toured it in 2007. I sincerely hope that a developer steps forward and restores this building. There is tremendous potential there.

  3. jimmy says:

    The first floor looks like a perfect place for an art gallery

  4. Hey David, I have your email. Next time I go anywhere I’ll send you a note.

    I spoke with an engineer who was touring the building when I shot these photos (he owns the two properties adjacent to the library). He said he was seriously interested in buying it. I guess he owns some kind of construction business. His only concern was what damage might be hiding above the ceiling that we couldn’t see. There was A LOT of water leaking down on us as the snow was melting from above. The first floor is all concrete so no problems there at least. It’s the second level “loft” area that might be a problem. But we couldn’t get up there to see it.

  5. We were interested in the building to reopen our antiquarian bookstore but there is just too much damage and water infiltration.
    The city gave the building to a community group after the last failed attempt to sell ( time line for renovation was too aggressive for us to attempt it then).
    From what I’ve seen the group sat on the building for 5 years with no attempt to to anything of any substance – meanwhile the water damage continued and got worse.
    Another fatal flaw for red development is the lack of parking or a loading dock so limited customer of even tenant parking and loading facilities.
    We continue to look for a interesting ( and sturdy – we are talking about a lot of weight with books) but sadly the library is way out of our range, estimate were upwards of $2 million to fix it properly.

  6. Matthew Denker says:

    So the timing may be wrong on this one, but I’d be happy to band together with a group of people here and put together a proposal on this one. I don’t know what kind of developer proposal(s) this is going to receive. Based on that, there may be more “serious proposals” to compete against. Even so, I think if we were to come forward with a plan to open, say, a community/after school center here that was seed money funded through kickstarter then partnered with a local bank (ESL most likely), we could really do something special here. We could also partner with the high school across the street if we go with after school+art gallery space. Something to think about.

  7. Brian says:

    I know I am very late to the party here, but did it seem like any of the furniture inside would be salvageable? It seemed like there was extensive water damage, but some of the bookcases and desks could, with some reinforcement and a new coat of varnish, make for a fantastic addition to a home and a neat piece of Rochester history. From the pictures, they appear to be solid oak which generally has a very good life span if it isn’t rotted out. Might be an easy way for the developers to make some cash and I would pay pretty good money for that.

  8. tony palermo says:

    It was a beautiful and classy building back in it’s day, in and out in a beautiful spot. I felt sad when i put the closed sign on the door,

  9. Angela D. says:

    This building will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I got my first library card. I had to be six or seven years old at the time so we’re talking about 1987-88 here. We lived on Weyl Street at the time and this was our local branch. I specifically remember standing on my toes to sign the (then) green and white card at the front desk and I held onto that thing for years!! It got a ton of use, I must say.

    I no longer live in Rochester but it will always be home. Hopefully someone has what it takes to bring this back to life and do it some justice. It would be a shame not to.

  10. Tony Palermo says:

    The splendor, elegance and grace can be brought back to life in the old building. It’s history should never be forgot. The oak used to shine. There are memories from a lot of woderful patrons visiting Pulaski. We had a really cool crew there. comments…

  11. Hey, I know I am even more late to the party, but I am looking for locations to hold artawake (http://www.artawake.org/) this year. It is a local art/music festival that seeks to revitalize an underused space, and frankly this looks perfect. Does anyone have any info that could get me in contact with whoever is in charge of the building now?

  12. Yes Jeremy. Email me… info at rochestersubway dot com

  13. Cheryle Wood says:

    This was my favorite place to spend school breaks and summer days. Spent many hours doing research there when I went to Franklin High School. Hope someone can rescue this beautiful building.


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