And then there were none.

The front steps at the Aiken County Public Library were demolished Monday as part of the first phase of a major renovation.

By early afternoon, only the porch remained. A pile of rubble below later was removed.

Many considered the steep steps to be treacherous.

“The 'Stairs of Death' have met their death,” Friends of the Aiken County Public Library President Bill Reynolds announced soon after the 3 p.m. start of the organization’s annual meeting Tuesday at the library.

The steps – on which some suffered injuries but nobody died – will be replaced with a stairway that has a gentler slope.

J.E. Stewart Builders Inc. of Aiken is in charge of the work, which is scheduled to be finished by early April.

The cost will be $165,000.

McMillan Pazdan Smith, a Greenville-based architecture firm, has designed the new stairway, which will be the same width at the top as the old one but will flare out at the bottom.

McMillan Pazdan Smith also designed the plans for a later phase when the interior of the library will be refurbished.

In addition, the firm is preparing the plans for upgrades to the vacant north wing of the brick building. The library is in the south wing, and while it is being renovated, the north wing will be used for storage and as an area where some library services can continue to be offered.

During the front staircase replacement project, patrons should enter the library by using the ground level elevator in the rear of the building, said Mary Jo Dawson, director of the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library System.

Books and audio/visual items still can be returned to an area in front of the library. To get to the drop boxes, use the parking lot entrance on York Street, Dawson said.

A public-private sector partnership between Aiken County government and the Friends of the Library is funding the renovation.

The Friends of the Library are providing $1 for every $2 the county contributes from Capital Project Sales Tax funds.

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, up to $3 million will be generated.

The library is on Chesterfield Street South in Aiken.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.