FPL kicks off major fundraising campaign

The Florence Public Library is raising funds to complete repairs to the building.

In September, just after celebrating its centennial, the Florence Public Library received an estimate to re-point its historical 101-year-old brick building in order to apply for a TEFFI:SEED grant sponsored by the Kansas Department of Commerce. Mortar has crumbled in places, and bricks have begun to shift and even fall. It has become a priority of the Board of Trustees to maintain the structure and its place on Florence’s unique and historical 1880s Main Street.

After being built in 1921 to house the First National Bank, an east room of the building was rented by a group of local women representing clubs in the community. They formed an association to establish the Florence Public Library in August of 1922. It moved several times over a span of decades and has been permanently housed in its building of origin since 1962.

The estimate to re-point the entire building came in at over $138,000, and the first grant application has been completed with the award occurring this month. The library will be matching awarded funds at 25%, and this money will be spent on the most desperate areas in the first phase of this project.

Of course, this project will need to be divided into multiple stages, due to cost. Now that the trustees are aware of the grand scope of this project, their focus turns to applying for additional grants and raising the money necessary to preserve not only a part of Florence’s history, but to protect the improvements that have been made to the building over the last three years. The floors have been leveled and the foundation is solid, the roof has been repaired, new sidewalks have been poured, and a new front door has been installed.

Once the re-pointing is completed, other issues that will need to be addressed include replacing the original floor on the northeast corner where it has collapsed into the basement, and since the roof has been repaired, the damaged ceiling needs to be replaced as well. Bringing the second story back to life is a goal for a future phase.

The overall monetary goal of the Florence Public Library preservation drive is $140,000 in the year to come. Part of that will come through grants being actively sought, and part will come through fundraising and support from the public through donations.

The campaign kicked off this month on October 14th with the release of clues for an Around the Town selfie scavenger hunt in Florence, and an October meal will be served on Sunday, October 30th at 5PM at the John McKay American Legion Post 308 at 401 Main in Florence for a free will donation. In the months that follow, fundraising events will include a November book sale, the opportunity to use the library for Christmas parties or teas, and bingo in January.

A GoFundMe page and the opportunity to donate via Venmo will be established before Oct. 31, or, donations can be mailed directly to the library at 324 Main, Florence, KS 66851 or to the Cottonwood Valley Bank in care of the Florence Public Library, 417 Main, Florence, KS. 66851.

The overall mission statement of the library’s board of trustees is that the library should be perceived as a neighborhood center, or “Florence’s living room”. To that end, the goal is to maintain an attractive, safe, comfortable, and welcoming place for members of the community to meet, work, and interact with others.

Please help keep the Florence Public Library from being just another crumbling building. “Florence’s living room” is open 3-5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – noon on Saturdays.

Kathy Inlow is the President of the Board of Trustees and can be reached for any additional information at 620-345-6543.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
Nine senior workers to be honored
Senior Citizens of Marion County Inc. will honor nine older members of...
Read More