When does an old building become historic?
As a general rule, architectural experts don’t consider a structure historic until it’s 50 years old, which means buildings from 1963 are just now starting to qualify.
For fans of the Hyattsville public library, that’s not soon enough. As the county debates how to replace the local branch — built in 1964 — some are hoping to save its iconic “flying saucer” entryway:
Ginny May of University Park has frequented the library since it opened in 1964 and described the saucer as “the neighborhood mascot.”
“At first, the people in this area would laugh about it. It caused a lot of giggles,” May said. “But over the years, it became like a warm, fuzzy teddy bear and it was our local landmark. It really stands out when you drive down Adelphi Road and I would hate to see it gone.”
To be honest, the rest of the building is not worth saving. It’s unfortunately a bit too representative of the era in which it was built, brown-brick boring on the outside, as dark as a steakhouse on the inside and a nightmare of stairs for the disabled.
But the saucer fans are right.
It wouldn’t take much to keep the free-standing structure and incorporate it into a new site design. It appears to support its own weight and is attached to the building by just one small and easily removable pole, plus it’s close enough to the property’s edge that it doesn’t preclude many design options for a new building — or a massive gutting of the existing building.
Saving the saucer drew scores of public comments so far, a lot of emails on the Hope in Hyattsville listserv and even a Facebook page which already has 286 fans.