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Groundbreaking on Boss Cox house to become library branch
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- It's a big day Monday for book lovers, computer users and other searchers for information and truth.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public broke ground on three branches. New ones in Reading and Saint Bernard and a renovation in Clifton. This being a story about the library, I'm going to tell everyone to ssshhhh and pay attention.
The Boss Cox house was once home to the man who ran Cincinnati. It is symbolically appropriate that dirt was shoveled for this groundbreaking because the man who once owned the house, George Boss Cox, was not exactly squeaky clean.
For a man who owned a bar, Cox became pretty well to do. He was able to afford a ritzy house called Park View.
Fender continued, "It was built in 1895 by noted Cincinnati architect, Samuel Hannaford, who also designed Cincinnati City Hall and Music Hall."
Boss Cox ran Cincinnati politics in the late 1800's and early 1900's with patronage and bribes. Now, the former political palace will become the Clifton Branch Library replacing a tiny storefront library with a much bigger and more technologically advanced facility.
"Our use last year was the highest ever with nearly 17.8 million items borrowed. And we don't see any slowdown. We had nearly two million reference questions so people need librarians to sort out all the stuff they get on line to get really good reliable information," said Fender.
The Clifton community has wanted a new library for years.
Clifton town meeting participant, Ben Pantoja, said, "We're definitely library people. Having the extra space, the extra selection, meeting rooms and the potential to have events and speakers and stuff is tremendous for us."
After Cox died, the house became a women's dorm and then a fraternity house for some 60 years. It was then purchased and donated to the library system by a former frat member, Michael Dever.
Did Boss Cox ever read a book in his life? I have no idea but I've heard jokes about the fraternity that this will be the first time a book will be read in the building. The new library will open in summer, 2015. Presumably some books will be opened inside as well.
The Boss Cox house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Total cost for all three new branches is about 12 million dollars. The library system has enough cash on hand from savings, grants, and the existing budget to open the new branches without taking on any debt.
The other new branches in Reading and Saint Bernard should open in mid-2015 as well.
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