Local News

April 11, 2009

Each its own story

Fifty men got together in 1811 to form the Crown Point Library Society, each agreeing to pay $2 to help fill the shelves.

That library started with 74 volumes and, for their protection, had in place several stringent regulations.

"No proprietor shall hold a book over two months from the time of drawing," was one with a penalty of two cents per day for those who broke the rule.

Other monetary penalties were levied for damage to the books.

"Each drop of tallow, eight cents; Every leaf turned down, three cents; Every rent in the binding, twelve and a half cents; Soiling a book in any manner, six cents."


Respect for books remains universal at libraries throughout the region; the history of each is a story in itself.

The oldest library in the North Country may be Chazy's, which was initiated in 1805 though not formally chartered until 1901.

Its current structure was once the law office of Julius Caesar Hubbell and was traded several times by American and British forces during the War of 1812.

In Peru, citizens gathered in 1915 — 104 of them joining the new library association at $1 each. This helped pay the $3-a-week salary of the librarian as well as rent in an office building. By 1928, $10,102 was allocated, mostly through the generosity of Mrs. Horatio Baker, for a new structure that was expanded and renovated in 1987 for $115,000. This year, a new roof, sidewalks and solar panels will be added to Peru Free Library.


One of the most elegant buildings in the North Country built specifically as a library is Willsboro's Paine Memorial Library.

The 1930 structure's ornamentation is of polished Vermont marble. Large gilded-frame oil paintings of its benefactors, Augustus G. and Charlotte Paine, accent the homey interior.

In direct contrast, Crown Point's Hammond Library, with its cinder-block façade, is housed in a former DeSoto car dealership's garage. While evidence of the large portal remains on the exterior, the interior features a woodlands mural, potted plants and other modifications to provide for a hospitable environment.

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