ROCKPORT — The former Carnegie Library, remodeled into one of this town’s more distinctive homes, is soon to play a role in the national spotlight.
A film crew from Home & Garden TV’s series titled “You Live in What?” visited Gail and David Vastola recently to film their Rockport home created out of the former turn-of-the-century library building.
The Vastolas bought the decaying building on Jewett Street in 2007 after the town had tried twice to auction it off with no success.
At the time, mold covered the interior walls and windows, and the smell of mildew was pervasive. The plaster was flaking, too, but the couple saw more than a diamond in the rough and decided to tackle the renovation, which took more than eight months.
The library was built with money from Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), the Bill Gates of his era, an industrialist and philanthropist who spent the latter part of his life giving away his fortune — much of it to build hundreds of public libraries across the United States. The Rockport Carnegie library opened with fanfare in 1906 and operated until 1993, when a new library opened nearby on School Street.
“The program’s staff searches literature around the world and finds places that people convert into homes. They read about us in a magazine. They contacted us and asked for pictures, and then asked for more pictures,” Dr. David Vastola said of the HGTV production team. “They wanted to film next year, and then they called and it was moved up to this fall.”
The crew carried out a full day of filming last Friday, including time-lapse footage from the town, including the sunrise and sunset. The couple will be notified when the program will air in the months to come.
“It’s good for the town, as this show has an international audience,” he added, recalling one show about a house in England that had been remodeled from a former military bunker.
The Vastolas undertook a division of duties as they talked about their nearly 4,500-square-foot home. She talked about the interior design, and he talked about structural elements.
Gail Vastola recalled that, when she set out to decorate, she carried out her own historical research.
“We wanted to bring in some period items but also some contemporary crisp-looking items,” she said.
Standing in front of a fireplace, she explained to the film crew that it was once hidden behind a wall and a bookcase and was only discovered during renovations when the wall was taken down.
The original face of the fireplace was green onyx, which the Vastolas discovered when they found several broken pieces tossed inside the fireplace. They had it repaired, but the mantle had been removed, and Gail Vastola searched for an appropriate replacement, which she found in marble from the same era.
David Vastola, meanwhile, talked about the underground garage, a support beam issue and other matters.
He showed the TV crew some of the bookshelves that were now in the basement wine cellar, and some bookshelves which had been converted into stands for wine.
The structure is notable for its soaring rotunda as one enters the building, as well as the Italian mosaic floor.
That entryway was a familiar site to the thousands of residents who used the library for nearly a century.
Now, with the renovations by the Vastolas, the building has a second chance — and remains a vibrant structure in the center of town.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.