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Look Back: From library to retail center

The large stained-glass window with the image of Andrew Carnegie was moved from the Green Street location to the new library on Emerson Avenue. (Photo Provided)

Editor’s note: This item is comprised of historical excerpts gathered by Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society.

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Events involving the Carnegie Library continue: The high bidder at the auction held on the steps of the Carnegie Library building in July of 1978 was local physician, Dr. Mel Okeon. The building had been empty since the library moved to its new location in 1976.

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Old Carnegie Library to be rented out as office space

The old Carnegie Library at the corner of Eighth and Green streets is for rent.

“It would be a magnificent office in the city because it’s gorgeous,” Dr. Mel Okeon, owner of the building said.

Okeon has spent $20,000 repairing the building and filling it with antiques and oriental rugs. He said the original stained-glass windows have been stolen except the one of Andrew Carnegie now housed in the Parkersburg and Wood County Library, 3100 Emerson Ave.

He had hoped to make a restaurant or night club at the historic building when he purchased it from the county in 1978. Now he thinks a business office would be the best hope for longevity for the structure.

Okeon purchased the building at public auction July 18, 1978, for $45,000. The original cost [to build] was $34,000. The Romanesque structure was dedicated Oct. 5, 1905, by the Parkersburg District Board of Education.

Excerpt from The Parkersburg News

Aug. 16, 1980

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Carnegie Library: New life for an old building

Industrialist Andrew Carnegie would be proud of the remodeled former public library building at 8th and Green streets.

In 1905, Carnegie donated $35,000 to the Wood County Board of Education for construction of the library, which was to relieve crowded conditions at Parkersburg High School [then at the corner of 7th and Green streets].

The building was named the Carnegie Library and for years it served as Parkersburg’s public library. After the Parkersburg and Wood County Library was built in 1976 at 3100 Emerson Ave., the building was sold to Mel Okeon, a local physician. Okeon owned the building for about two years before Joe Sakach of Leachtown bought the library.

Sakach and his wife, Lea, are restoring the building to its original state.

The heartwood maple floors have been refinished, walls repaired and the exterior cleaned. Plans call for replacing broken tiles on the main level of the building.

Sakach hopes the former library can be completely refurbished by spring. Office space will be leased on the second floor.

The Sakaches have opened a bookstore in the building. The shop, known as Trans Allegheny Used Books, offers more than 30,000 books.

“I wanted to get into the retail end of the book business and this building was perfect for it because the stacks were already there,” Sakach said.

The bookstore offers a book-search service. Persons who can’t find a particular book or publication can contact Sakach, who will try to find it by contacting book collectors and vendors.

Early editions of Time, Life and Saturday Evening Post magazines can be found in the bookshop, as well as recent publications. New books include ‘The Last of the Backyard Boat Builders,” the story of Everet Ruble Jr. of Belpre, and a biography of famous river man T.C. Collins.

Chezelle’s, a woman’s dress shop, is housed on the main level of the former library. The shop offers clothing by Kenar Gil Aimbez and Depeche.

Excerpt from The Parkersburg News

Oct. 1, 1986

Note: The Trans Allegheny Used Books operated until Mr. Sakachs’ death in April of 2010. The building has remained closed and mostly untouched for more than ten years.

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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