ladies who lived above the libraryDear Editor, Mary S. Bechtel was the first of two ladies who came with properties which eventually become The Boyertown Community Library. The prior owner hoped we would keep Mary as a tenant. After realizing we could not use the second floor for public use because of cost factors, the library board realized income from rentals would make the property somewhat self supporting.
Mary, a Boyertown native, was happy with the project and volunteered to unlock doors for workers, be an extra eye on the unoccupied downstairs property, and maintain the flowers along the side walkway. Once she returned after an extended time away for medical treatment, she bounced back into many activities and lived above the library until her death at ninety two weeks ago. One could always look on the roof above the library and see her plastic snowman in the winter and her flower boxes in the summer. She will be missed.
Loah Whitmore, and her husband Hal, became tenants when the library bought an adjacent property. Within two years of completion, the library board realized the original property was too small. Again, a prior owner wanted her friends to "stay with the property" and even wrote it into the bill of sale.
The Whitmores, who had retired back in Loah's hometown of Boyertown also had a summer cottage on one of the Thousand Islands. They left for the cottage while the contractors took down the brick walls and joined the first floor of the two properties. They soon settled into living above the children's wing and were a delightful couple. Evenings would find them sitting on a bench in their little garden behind the library enjoying cocktails.
Loah, too, became a library volunteer and active member of the Library Friend's Group who do the twice yearly book sales. She was active in her church and had a range of friends. In the middle of their time as tenants, Hal's health failed and Loah became a full time caregiver for several years until his death. Soon Loah had joint replacement surgery and second floor living became difficult but she remained upbeat and still had a cup of tea ready for a visitor.
In my mind, the accident that took Loah's life at age 84 last week was an accident that could have happened to any senior citizen in any apartment in town. Because it was a multi-use property with extra firewall protection, the kitchen fire, thankfully, did not spread to harm others.
So within two weeks, two friends, the ladies above the library are gone and I will miss them both.
Sincerely, Marian Borneman, former Library President in charge of Property Renovations
The Boyertown Library
The Board of Trustees, staff and friends of the J.K. Boyer Boyertown Community Library wish to express their heartfelt appreciation to all the emergency personnel who responded to the tragic fire at the library Tuesday, Aug. 5.
It's difficult to put into words the deep sadness felt by the loss of Loah Whitmore, a friend of the library and volunteer.
The response of the local fire departments kept a terrible situation from becoming a disaster. Along with putting out the fire, the fire personnel covered the shelves and floor in the children's wing with tarps, preventing severe smoke and water damage to the collection.
At this time, we're unsure what loss there may be to the young children's collection. The library has hired Berks Fire Water Restorations Inc., which has diligently been working to clean the library so we can reopen.
Contingent upon the building passing inspection by the Borough of Boyertown's Code Enforcement Officer, we expect we will be able to reopen the main section of the library on Thursday, Aug. 14. We're hopeful we will be able to reopen the front of the children's wing where the juvenile collection is housed soon. The back of the children's wing where young children's books are housed will be closed until further notice.
We are grateful for the scores of volunteers and neighboring businesses that have offered condolences, support and aid to the library. We thank the Berks County Public Library System for their support and for loaning us young children's books.
Thanks especially to the Boyertown Police Department, Keystone Fire Company of Boyertown, Friendship Hook & Ladder Fire Company of Boyertown, the New Hanover Township Fire Company, Bechtelsville Fire Company, Earl Township Vol. Fire Co., Goodwill Fire Co. of Bally, Amity Fire & Rescue of Douglassville, Liberty Fire Company of New Berlinville, Goodwill Ambulance of Pottstown, Boyertown Lions Community Ambulance and The Salvation Army of Boyertown canteen.
To all that responded, we're very grateful for your help.
We thank our patrons for their words of concern. We know you're anxious to begin using the library again, and we thank you for your understanding while we were closed. We also appreciate your patience as we reopen in a smaller space and attempt to catch up on the backlog of books that were checked out and on hold.