Gift Takes a Library Beyond Books
Crain’s Detroit Business
by Sherri Begin
While Mary Beth and Kinnie Smith Jr. see the value in moving forward, they also see value in preserving the past.
The couple has pledged $1 million toward the preservation of the Grosse Pointe Central Library and the addition of new space and technology.
Their donation is the lead gift in the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation’s $10 million capital campaign.
Located at Kercheval Street and Fisher Road in Grosse Pointe Farms, the library was designed by noted modernist architect Marcel Breuer in 1953. It is on the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 watch list of the 100 most endangered sites.
Smith has served on the library foundation board of directors for five years and on the library’s board of directors for two years. She’s also been president and board member of the Friends of the Library since 2002.
Before their most recent gift, the Smiths, both 77, made a $200,000 gift to the library foundation.
Kinnie Smith, who is of counsel at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone P.L.C., is a past board member of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Michigan Opera Theatre, organizations the couple continues to support.
About half of Grosse Pointe’s library patronage takes place at the Central Library branch, which places it in the top 20 percent of Michigan libraries for patronage, said Marcia Scavarda, director of the library foundation, in an e-mail.
“Yet it ranks in the bottom 25 percent in terms of square footage per resident,” she added.
In addition to the Smiths’ gift, the foundation has secured a $50,000 grant from the World Monuments Fund and a $250,000 donation from an unnamed donor to fund the project.
It plans to officially launch the capital campaign once it receives approval from the city of Grosse Pointe Farms.