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Wrapping the Dome for Winter


     Earlier this year, the Lake Forest Library dome was inspected when unusual buckling was identified on one of the historic 1930’s Nicolai Remisoff mural panels that line the interior of the library’s rotunda. The dome inspection revealed that the entire leaded-copper dome needs to be replaced. There is no way to simply repair the leaks and other damage that have occurred due to age and weathering. The masonry (brick and limestone) substructure the dome rests on also requires significant restoration work. The library dome was last replaced in 1984 using the original 1930’s design and historic leaded-copper.

     The dome will be wrapped for the winter months as the Library Board identifies an architectural firm to advise on the building’s structural issues. Additionally, the Board will consider a redesign, upgrade, and refresh of the interior space of the library with a focus on maintaining its historical integrity, while responding to emerging service demands and the future needs of the Lake Forest community.  

     The responses to the Library’s May 2017 Community Survey identified a number of needs that the Lake Forest community would like addressed in the building. The Executive Summary of the Community Survey and the Strategic Plan that grew out of the survey are available on the library’s website at:

     The structural building issues, mural work, and community wish list resulted in contractors, art restorers, and other experts engaged in assessment work throughout the library over the last few months. “No one person or group was able to provide a solution to all the situations facing the library. To allow time to think comprehensibly, the Library Board decided to wrap the dome to prevent further damage to the rotunda and murals,” states Catherine Lemmer, Library Director.

     Wrapping the dome gives the Board time to consult with experts on these structural options, while protecting the interior rotunda and the Remisoff murals from further damage. Wrapping the dome also gives the Library Board time to investigate options for funding the significant costs associated with restoring the dome and preserving the murals.

     Taking a long-term comprehensive approach, the Library Board has issued a Request for Architectural Qualifications. An architect will provide the needed expertise for the use of historic materials and construction as well as adaptation of a historic building. The selected architect will lead the library through a thoughtful process of examining and assessing the current building, its historic significance, components, and use, and the current and future needs of the community and provide recommendations to the library.