Founded in 1984 and built with private donations, the Center for Urban Horticulture's mission is "to apply horticulture to natural and human-altered landscapes to sustain natural resources and the human spirit." As part of its public service, the center provides meeting space for gardening clubs and environmental groups, educational classes, demonstration gardens, and a place to come for answers: the Master Gardeners clinic on Saturday mornings, the Miller Library or the library's Plant Answer Line.
On average, more than 12,000 visitors a year use the library, but after the fire, it was forced to close for seven months. "Every single thing needed to be ozinated to take the smell out. And the ones that were wet needed to be freeze-dried. Some needed both," says Valerie Easton, the library's manager. "The library was actually the most adversely affected because we are our materials." About 15 percent of the collection was damaged beyond repair.