Abbot Public Library Construction Launch Party

Mar 16, 2023 | Renovation Updates

In June 2021, the Town of Marblehead overwhelmingly approved an $8.5 million override request to renovate and replace the failing infrastructure of the building at 235 Pleasant Street. An additional $1M from the Abbot Public Library Foundation, raised through private donations, will be made available to the Town for the renovation.

Almost two years later, the
The Board of Trustees of Abbot Public Library hosted a construction launch party on March 8, 2023 at 11:00 am in the Garden at 235 Pleasant Street. Special guests included Thatcher Kezer, (Town of Marblehead Administrator); Jenny Armini (MA State Representative, 8th Essex District), Brendan Crighton (MA State Senator, 3rd Essex); members of the Building Renovation Committee, the Abbot Public Library Foundation, Friends of Abbot Public Library, Second Century Fund, Killam Foundation, and the Driftwood Garden Club.

Local media outlets joined the celebration, including
: Marblehead Patch, Lynn Daily Item, Marblehead Patch, Marblehead Weekly News, Salem News, Marblehead Current, and MHTV.


Kimberly Grad, Director of Abbot Public Library, noted that “We are so pleased to celebrate the start of the actual renovation of 235 Pleasant Street. Abbot Public Library takes on a vital role in our Town in the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning, the freedom to read what we choose, the pursuit of knowledge and trusted information resources, providing free, inclusive and adaptive spaces for gathering, and supporting civic engagement through collaboration and connection with our community. We look forward to the moment when we can continue our work in the updated space.” 

Up to this point the main focus of the work has been on planning the design and infrastructure improvements and the budget estimates. “
The project is currently on budget although it has certainly been challenging due to the record inflation and market escalation that we have all been experiencing,” said Gary Amberik, Chair of Abbot Public Library Board of Trustees and the Building Renovation Committee, which meets every other week. The project is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2024. 

The project kickoff meeting was on January 30, 2023. Team members from L.D Russo, JRA and CHA met with Kimberly Grad and Gary Amberik to go over all logistics and start off the project. The project team meets every Wednesday on site to tour the building and discuss weekly updates on the project, including the timeline and budget. Monthly progress reports will be posted at

Based in Harvard, MA, 
L.D. Russo has been chosen as the general contractor and began work on the building on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. A perimeter site safety fence has been installed around the site for the majority of the construction. “In our first few weeks of work, all of the Town departments have been incredibly welcoming, and the architect, OPM, and Library building committee team are a great group to work with. We are excited to help bring new life to a building that is a central part of the Marblehead community, ” said Nat Coughlin, President, LD Russo, Inc.


Demolition and abatement continued through the month of February and will be completed in March. We put together a set of slides that shows the current progress. Most of the work is being staged in the lower entrance to the library around the parking lot. In the front of the building, there will be some waterproofing work done in the window areas. Some shrubs will be removed but major plantings will be preserved. Members of the Driftwood Garden Club will have access to the front areas of the property to maintain the garden throughout the project.

Johnson Roberts Associates has been working on Abbot Public Library’s renovation project since 2018. They have completed nearly 40 libraries and more than 100 feasibility studies for public libraries across New England, including multiple projects for the Concord (MA) Public Library System, the Lithgow Library in Augusta, Maine, and spaces in the historic Boston Public Library’s McKim Building. All of the projects are unique but share an underlying design sensibility that creates spaces that are inviting and intuitive. They encourage browsing and draw people through the space using natural light and enticing views, letting visitors find exactly what they need.

“We’re delighted to see the transformation of the Abbot Public Library begin. The renovation is driven mainly by the need for new building systems, including new heat pumps and modern technology infrastructure, but it also entails reconfigured and reinvigorated spaces throughout. The new layout will improve the flow and function of the building. We’re most excited by the many programs and community uses the renovation will accommodate. At Johnson Roberts, we design for communities, and we’re thrilled to help the Abbot Public Library better serve the Town of Marblehead.” 

 Stew Roberts, AIA Principal
Michael Bellefeuille, AIA Associate
Cary Babyak, Senior Designer
Johnson Roberts Associates, Inc.


CHA Consulting has been working with the Building Renovation Committee since Fall 2021 in all phases of the project. As the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), they assist with the logistics of the project including coordination of meetings, contracts, budget estimates and note taking. “CHA is excited to be part of the Abbot Public Library renovation project. Public library buildings are not just places of quiet study; they are a treasured resource for residents of all ages and a place of pride and community building. We are proud to be part of the team that will transform and modernize this library for accessibility, and to accommodate Marblehead’s changing needs and the new opportunities the library will be able to offer.”

Thomas Gatzunis, Section Manager
Laura Jolly, Project Manager
Kayla Gallo, Assistant Project Manager
CHA Consulting

Meanwhile, a full range of services is available at our temporary location at 3 Brook Road. We only have a portion of our collection on site, but we are happy to help patrons reserve material from other NOBLE libraries. Please see our
events calendar for adult, teen and children’s programs.