Searls library set to open |

Searls library set to open

John HartVolunteer Nick Rohrman refinishes a bookcase in the Searls Historical Library in Nevada City Wednesday afternoon.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Searls Historical Library on Church Street in Nevada City will soon reopen after more than four months of repair work.

An open house is scheduled for Aug. 17. The library reopens Aug. 19.

The project, estimated to cost $22,400, began after a section of the floor started sagging in the rear of the 1872 building, which served as a law office for three generations of the Searls family until 1970.

“It was more than we bargained for,” volunteer Elmabel Rohrman said Wednesday of the repairs.

The work, she said half-jokingly, was “sheer horror.”

Rohrman, 72, and the other Nevada County Historical Society volunteers who run the library first set out to repair the sagging floor. But the workers hired to replace the floor found dry rot and termites in the front room, and the project grew.

The floor and two inside walls in the front room were repaired, the outside and inside brick walls repainted, and several bookcases rebuilt.

“It turned out to be a lot more than we thought,” said Rohrman, who celebrated her 53rd wedding anniversary July 20 by working with husband, Nick, at the library.

Volunteer Pat Chesnut said the library’s books, maps and photos were stored at volunteers’ homes and at a mini-storage during the repairs.

And like Rohrman, Chesnut said she found herself working five, six, even seven days a week.

“I’m not used to that,” said the 60-year-old Chesnut, as she painted a door Wednesday. “I’m retired.”

During the repair work, volunteers found a series of long-lost items, including an old fly swatter, an old photograph of Camborne, Cornwall; the 1886 marriage license of William Grove, a carpenter and undertaker in Nevada City; and a box filled with cashed payroll checks from the Lava Cap Gold Mining Corp.

The library houses 2,000 books, 960 maps and 10,000 photographs. It operates on $5,300 a year.

The library’s hours are 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.


WHAT: Searls Historical Library open house

WHEN: Aug. 17, 1 to 4 p.m.

WHERE: 214 Church St., Nevada City


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