About the Construction Project

Construction photos

TheWhen the Society was presented with the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2014, the citation stated it was for “safeguarding the American story.” Now we are embarking on a building expansion project that will strengthen our ability to be the premiere library of record of pre-twentieth-century American imprints. This new three-story, 7,000-square-foot addition to Antiquarian Hall will dramatically increase our capacity to preserve and to share the multitude of American stories documented in the printed record of our nation’s past. It will feature a mechanical room to house a modern HVAC system, ensuring high-quality climate control for collection preservation; a flexible multipurpose room for programming; and a state-of-the-art conservation lab.

The façade of the addition will present a welcoming face to the community, literally opening up a portion of the historic library to view through a glass and patinated-copper façade facing onto Park Avenue, one of Worcester's busiest thoroughfares. In keeping with the most current thinking in historic preservation, the addition will have a distinctly modern flavor that nevertheless ties in with elements of the existing structure. With enthusiastic approval from both the AAS Council and the Worcester Historical Commission, we are ready to take this step towards making our third century our best yet.

The new copper-paneled façade—nestled in a large niche between existing Neo-Georgian blocks.
Rendering courtesy of Samuel Anderson Architects.



Conservation Lab

“The current, very modestly sized conservation studio dates back to the early 1970s; needless to say, I am ecstatic about the prospect of a modern, vastly enlarged and fully equipped studio, which will afford long-awaited opportunities to expand staff and teaching programs and will greatly augment our treatment repertoire.” – Babette Gehnrich, AAS Chief Conservator

The new conservation lab, located on the top floor of the addition, will feature:

• three times the space of the current lab
• state-of-the-art tools and equipment
• five workstations
• a chemical treatments room
• an office for the chief conservator
• room to enlarge the conservation internship program
• floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights to provide plenty of natural light
• the historic fanlight from the first Antiquarian Hall


Multipurpose Room

“With many of our programs we literally put the past in people’s hands by letting them explore the actual artifacts from our collections. With the new program space we will be able to do this in a variety of ways that will both enhance the security of our materials and increase the comfort of our patrons. Designed with flexibility in mind, it will enable us to host larger workshops and seminars, conduct concurrent events in Antiquarian Hall, display small exhibitions, and offer programming to people all over the world.” – James David Moran, AAS Director of Outreach

The multipurpose room, located on the second floor of the addition, will feature:

• removable tables and chairs that can be configured any number of ways
• room for 45 people seated at tables, 70 people lecture style, and 100 people at a reception
• enhanced audiovisual equipment for projection and sound
• video conferencing equipment for long-distance engagement
• a magnetic board for collection display
• movable exhibition cases
• direct stack access for staff


Building Infrastructure

“Perhaps most importantly, the new facility will secure climate-controlled storage that will accommodate years of new acquisitions, including documents that could be lost to history if they are not preserved at AAS. This is the single most important opportunity in our lifetimes to advance the mission of AAS.” – Jim Donnelly, AAS Councilor

The renovation and expansion of the building’s infrastructure will include:

• a new mechanical room on the basement level of the addition
• the replacement of aging boilers, humidifiers, and air handlers
• improved climate control for 35,000 square feet of existing stacks
• an upgrade of the fire detection and protection systems
• an elevator for public spaces
• a larger, updated staff room
• additional bathrooms for staff and visitors
• the removal of obsolete piping and wiring from the stacks
• asbestos removal in the basement

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