The North Bend Eagle


 

Renovated library
Jim Kruger sits at his desk in the old North Bend Library. Kruger has renovated much of the building to its original condition and is hosting an open house June 28, 2014.

Kruger returns to his roots

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/25/14

Two years after closing its doors as the North Bend Public Library for the last time, the old Carnegie library building will once again open its doors to the public this weekend.

North Bend native Jim Kruger bought the building a few months after it closed in April 2012 and has spent the last couple of years restoring it to its original condition.

The old library will host an open house this Saturday, June 28, from 1 to 5 p.m.
“Everybody asks me about it all the time,” Kruger said, “and I give them some wise answer, so we’ll give them a chance to come in and see it for themselves.”

The former library now serves as Kruger’s office. The books, computers and cake pans are gone and it has been beautifully redecorated with many of the features the Carnegie building had when it first opened in 1913.

Library before renovation
The before (above) and after (below) pictures show some of the renovations that the Carnegie Library building has undergone. Library renovated

The drop ceiling and fluorescent lights have been removed and replaced with schoolhouse-style hanging lights. When workers pulled up the flooring, they found the original floor was made of cork, so Kruger had them install a new cork floor.

“They must have made cork flooring 100 years ago,” Kruger said with a shrug.
He also added a toilet and sink to what used to be the librarians’ work room. Previously, there had been no restroom facility on the main floor.

Kruger, 82, is pleased with the way things turned out, even if he wasn’t so sure about things when the process began.

“I kept thinking, ‘This is ridiculous,’” he said. “Now I’m glad my wife charged ahead. She said, ‘You can have an office, and you can go to North Bend and buy a newspaper and go to your office.’”

Kruger credits his wife Sanrda as the driving force behind the renovations and decor.

Some of the decoration includes items of historical and personal significance to Kruger, including the Civil War discharge papers of his great-grandfather, John Herron.

That wall furnishing also include copies of several historical North Bend photos that also hang in the new library, though as Kruger pointed out, not all the labels are correct in the new library.

“In the new library they have an explanation on there that says this is from the early ‘30s,” he said, pointing at a vintage scene of downtown. “That’s wrong. It’s about the early 1940’s. I can tell you who owns some of those cars.”

After growing up in North Bend Kruger eventually went on to found Kruger Commodities in 1972, a company that renders and processes meat by-products and recycles used cooking oil. The company grew to include plants in Iowa and Michigan in addition to Omaha.

Kruger still goes into his Omaha office every morning, but he said he and his wife Sandra will be spending a lot more time in North Bend now that they have a house on Legge’s Lake and an office in town.

His new office in the old library sits just two blocks away from the house he grew up in, a house his grandfather built in the early 1880s. He remembers walking to the Carnegie Library and looking at grisly war pictures on a stereoscope in the corner of the library.

Now, once again he’ll be making frequent trips to the same building.

“I guess this is where it started,” Kruger said,” and this is where I’ll end up.”

 

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