Friday, November 9, 2012

Provo Places: Our Library

Whenever I drive by this impressive structure or enter its literary walls, my feelings are a jumble of pride, joy, nostalgia, and simple pleasure. The Provo Library at Academy Square is housed in the former Brigham Young Academy building that my grandmother, mother, and parents-in-law frequented as students decades ago.
When I was a student myself at BYU, the building was a mess--abandoned, vandalized, and broken. My heart ached whenever I drove down University Avenue during the 1980s. Joyfully, the former Academy was eventually rescued, restored, and resurrected as Provo's new public library.
Two-year-old Abby and I were one of its first patrons as the refurbished doors were opened in early September 2001. Our picture was published in the Deseret News the next morning.
The public library saved my sanity many times as a mother of young children--be it in Albany, CA; Fairfax, VA; Buena Vista, VA; or Provo, UT. These libraries were NOT all created equal. Nevertheless, they were often my outing of choice. I was a happy mom at the library, and story time was a lifesaver to my sometimes monotonous stay-at-home mom duties.
Toddler Abby routinely had to stop and hug this statue as we entered the children's section of the Provo  Library, and to this day, I often see her 13-year-old self glancing at it with continued affection.
Just across the street from the library is BYU's former women's gymnasium. My mom remembers taking the required PE class "Activities of Fitness" in this building in 1961. It is currently home to a trendy boutique, but I'm so glad the facade remains.
I do love the Provo Library at Academy Square and the unique and historic building that envelopes it.


18 comments:

Dixie Mom said...

Love those places too! I haven't been in the library since they restored it. I used to go by it all the time and be sad that it was in such disrepair. I never thought they would get enough money to fix it up. I think it would be neat if they reserved an area in it for receptions.

Rachel said...

Abby is so cute! And her hugging the statue is so precious! I can't wait until December 16th!

Haunani said...

What a beautiful building!
And I have so many fond memories of taking my kids on our weekly Library Day. I would put it on the calendar so they could count down the days. We all looked forward to story time and new books to bring home. I loved that the library was one of those places where I said, "Yes" more often than I said "No."
Thanks for reminding me of those happy memories.

Wendys Hat said...

Wow what a beautiful and library and historic building to be able to go to. I LOVE books and love libraries too. Fun!

Julie said...

We must have attended BYU around the same time. I remember the Academy building. It was spooky. So very happy to see it refurbished and housing such a worthy thing, Thank you for sharing it!

Ginger said...

What a beautiful building and what a treasure it is to have it restored and giving back to the community in such an important way. Thanks so much for sharing your part of the world. I love that!

Shannon said...

I love having the Academy refurbished and put to use as a building I go in all of the time. I have sad memories from the 80's and 90's as well. It's so much better now. Cute picture of Abby!

Shannon said...

I love that the Academy is no longer the eyesore it was when I was in college. It's such a beautiful building now. Did you know Greg wrote a paper about it that was published last summer? Cute picture of Abby, too!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

That is a beautiful building! I never really knew as anything other than it is right now. Seems like it's been through a lot of changes. You got some gorgeous shots of that place! I'm a sucker for good architecture! :)

2busy said...

That's the library? I love it! I could stay there all day. I love the historic architecture and that they chose to preserve instead of tear down.

Saimi said...

Wow that is an impressive building! I'm so glad they restored it. I hate to see when buildings like that get torn down or forgotten about.

How lucky you were able to be one of the first to enter it after the reconstruction!

Julie said...

I started just after you left--Fall of '86.

Lesa said...

That is a very cool, classy, neat library. I used to take my kids to the library all the time. Story time was the best!

Julie B-G said...

It is a lovely building. We used to live close to it when it was falling down and I was not sure the renovations could be successful, but they are. I love the idea of Abbey giving the statue a hug!

Charlene said...

The Chantilly library has the same statute. Arik hasn't given it a hug, but he has climbed all over it.

Jenny said...

As if I didn't miss Provo enough! The Provo Library is the best ever

Mom to Many said...

The first time I walked through this beautiful building to attend a reception held in the ballroom I felt a surge of nostalgia. I quietly whispered to myself. "My great-grandmother walked these halls." I felt awe. Many of my ancestors attended the B.Y. Academy. I listened to my great-grandmother tell about sleeping on a screen porch not far off of campus. She woke to snow on the bedspread. We can't even imagine renting a screen porch. I looked back in the census and found her family living in Provo. Recently my grandmother's brother passed away. He used to tell me about crossing the train tracks near there Provo home to go and milk the cows. He started his schooling at the B.Y. Academy and then moved on to Penn. State. This beautiful building truly was saved from an awful fate. I love these old buildings and I am so glad to see the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints rebuilding the old Provo Tabernacle. Thanks you for the walk down memory lane Julie. :)

Jenny Lynn said...

It delighted my heart as well that Provo redesigned, restored and turn the old rundown school into a library. It is beautiful.