Skip to main content

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: It’s time to turn another page – The Johann Fust Library story continues

October 20, 2022
By Guest Columnist

Submitted by the Johann Fust Library Foundation

For more than 70 years, Boca Grande’s Johann Fust Library has been a coral-pink-colored sentinel, providing a place of respite and literary enrichment for the community, and it will continue to do so! Fortunately, Hurricane Ian was no match for this steadfast grande dame! 

Since 1950, the library has survived and flourished, even after experiencing over 50 major hurricanes and storms coming within 150 miles of Boca Grande, a testament to its solid construction and craftsmanship. We have much work to do, but the Johann Fust Library Foundation and Board of Directors feel extremely lucky to be able to pick up the Hurricane Ian “pieces” and dutifully continue their mission “to maintain and preserve the buildings and gardens of the library while providing a literary and cultural center for the residents and visitors of Boca Grande.” 

Due to the financial support of its generous donors, the library has continuously been on a regular preventive maintenance schedule. The library and grounds fared well compared to many other homes and buildings in our local and neighboring communities.  

After Hurricane Ian 

“The good news for all of us is that our beautiful library building remains intact,” said JF Library Foundation President Jacque Hoyt regarding the effects of Hurricane Ian on the library. 

There was minimal damage to the stacks room (slight water penetration around the window seals) and no damage to the interior of the children’s library – they stayed mostly dry and relatively unaffected. The Stratton Room had a small amount of water that came in through the chimney. It was quickly dried and did no damage to shelves, furnishings or books. The second-floor Foundation office space was not severely affected by the storm, owing much to the recently applied elastomeric coating to the 72-year-old Bermuda-style roof. 

Unfortunately, the media library roof has been badly damaged and will have to be replaced. Due to the solid wood construction of the ceiling, no water entered the room, and the computers and media were not damaged.

Heavy winds extensively damaged the garden – many trees and newly planted shrubs were lost. We will nurture those that can be saved and replant where necessary. Our garden statuary, including our beautiful “Wildflower,” was safely harbored in the children’s library while Ian raged. She and all other garden statues are undamaged. 

In addition, the Foundation’s Cost Cottage, which is next door to the library and was recently renovated, suffered roof damage. This resulted in the loss of two ceilings and damage to a third. Much work is needed before it will again be inhabitable.

Ball Construction, who oversaw the major library renovation in 2013 and the newly constructed elevator, will handle all storm repairs.  

While repairing hurricane damage to their own homes, the Foundation team and its dedicated service providers have come together to begin the remediation process. Programs planned for the months of November and December have been canceled and hopefully will be rescheduled. 

As soon as repairs and remediation have been completed, the JF Library Foundation and Lee County Library Services will reopen the library, loggia, gardens, media room and children’s library for all to enjoy again. At this time, there is no set reopening date, and it is recommended that patrons visit for local branch updates.

For additional information about the Johann Fust Library Foundation’s future programs and how to donate to the Foundation, please visit or call (941) 964-0211. 

A Little History

It was at the request of Louise DuPont Crowninshield, the matriarch of Boca Grande, that Louise and Roger Amory were encouraged to first visit Boca Grande in the late 1940s. For generations now, the community and local island residents have continued to appreciate Mrs. Crowninshield’s altruism and hospitality, for without her efforts, Boca Grande would be a far different community than it is today. Library patrons are so fortunate that Roger and Louise fell in love with the island and decided to build a library on Gasparilla Island in Boca Grande. 

In 1949, the 10th Street property for the library and cottage was purchased for $6,500. Plans for the Johann Fust Library were drawn up by architect Harry Shepley from the Boston architectural firm of Coolidge, Bullfinch and Shepley (designers of many of Harvard University’s buildings in Cambridge, Mass.)  After taking two years to construct, and financed primarily by bibliophiles Louise and Roger Amory, our local Johann Fust Library was dedicated on Jan. 1, 1950. 

The library was constructed by local builders, the Griffin Brothers, and included the main library building, which contained an apartment on the second floor for a librarian, a garage, potting shed, garden, and loggia. A cottage was built next door to the library for the use of Pansy Cost, the librarian, and her husband, Tommy, the library superintendent. Tommy and Pansy lived in the cottage until they passed away in 2005 and 2004, respectively.