The library and accompanying saucer were built in 1964 and dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy, Jr.
The flying saucer hovering above the doorway of the public library in Hyattsville, Md., is meant to look futuristic, a poured-concrete ode to the Space Race and America’s midcentury fascination with all things extraterrestrial.
Inside, though, the 1964 building is notably dated. “There’s no technology infrastructure,” explains Michael Gannon, associate director for support services at the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. “There are very few electrical outlets, and it’s also barely ADA compliant.” He adds that the windows in the building had to be bolted shut after they frequently slid open by themselves.
Although plans to replace the low-slung, brick modernist building with a brand-new structure are underway, a small but vocal Hyattsville group has spoken out in favor of preserving the approximately 20-foot tall glass and concrete saucer, as well as the library as a whole. The “Save Our Saucer” campaign has garnered more than 500 Facebook “likes,” and while the tone on the page is humorous and lighthearted, giving “Saucer” a personality (a post from last August features the cover of “The Flying Saucer Mystery,” a Nancy Drew novel, while the caption reads “What Saucer read over the weekend”), it’s clear that the space-age relic holds a cherished place in the hearts of longtime Hyattsville residents.... Read More →
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Katherine Flynn is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores and uncovering the stories behind historic places. Follow her on Twitter at @kateallthetime.