LITTLE BOSTON — Tuesday marked another page turned in the Port Gamble S’Klallam’s story to complete the House of Knowledge campus and help restore the tribe’s culture. The foundation for the Little Boston Library, the final building in the complex, was poured Tuesday, marking the start of construction and the rising of exhilaration for tribal members.
“I think everyone is very excited,” said tribal associate director Laurie Mattson. “This is tangible evidence that this is happening.”
The Little Boston Library has been through many changes since the 1950s, when the first book mobile rolled into the area, said tribal chairman Ron Charles. He was just a boy when the book mobile appeared, and said he is thrilled to see work underway that will eventually benefit not only tribal members, but residents for miles around.
“To me, as someone who has experienced how far we’ve come, it’s kind of overwhelming to see the beginning of what’s going to be a beautiful new building,” he said. “It’s quite exciting.”
Branch manager Sue Jones has worked at the Little Boston Library for three decades. She was among those who helped move the library from its original A-frame building, constructed in 1974, into the current location in 1989.
The new 2,767-square-foot structure was initially planned to be slightly larger, but some 400-square feet were axed to fit the tribe’s $936,000 budget for the project. The tribe inked a contract with Faxas Construction from Kirkland Jan. 23. Faxas will follow designs created by Johnston Architects of Seattle.
“The next steps are framing, putting up walls and the roof, plumbing, heating, ventilation, finishing the interior and pretty soon you have the whole building,” said tribal planning director Joe Sparr. “The framing goes up really fast, then it seems to slow down because it becomes about the detailed work.”
And while construction is still in its early stages, the excitement surrounding it is advanced, to say the least.
“I’ve been going over every Monday and Tuesday since construction started and taking pictures,” Jones said. “I did that when the current building was being constructed, too. I save them for the library, and for myself.”
When she’s not snapping photos, Jones works on acquiring more shelves for the library and planning additional programs. A new meeting room, something she fought to retain despite the reduction in square footage, will provide space for such activities.
The community is also being involved in the new library, which will include artwork created by local tribal members, Mattson said.
“We received a grant from the Muckleshoot Charity Fund to buy art in summer 2005,” she said. “We’re storing a couple pieces for the library. We invited tribal artists of all ages to participate in the grant.”
The three pieces that will be displayed in the library are a small bentwood box created by Jimmy Price, a maple burl paddle done by Ted Morgan and a large bentwood box shaped by Bill Jones Sr.