Chapin Memorial Library

6517 Market Street
Petersburg, KY 41080

The Chapin Memorial Library, located in Petersburg, Kentucky, was the first library open to the public in Boone County. Established and endowed by Mr. E. Y. Chapin, the library has been in almost continuous operation since April 1948. From 1948 to 2006, the library was housed in the Petersburg Christian Church and administered by a church board. In 2006, the board contracted with the Boone County Public Library District to manage the Chapin Memorial Library in its new home in the Petersburg Community Center.

Edward Young Chapin was born in Petersburg on October 8, 1865 to William and Mary (Kelly) Chapin. He attended high school in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, then went on to Law School at the University of Cincinnati, graduating in 1886. Mr. Chapin relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1887 where he first practiced law and then founded the American Trust & Banking Company with Henry S. Probasco in 1912. As a successful businessman and leading citizen of Chattanooga, his philanthropic activities included helping to establish the Chattanooga Public Library, now called the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Library, and donating a library to Hamilton County Central High School of Chattanooga.

By 1946, Mr. Chapin had turned his attention and resources to fulfilling his youthful dream of establishing a library in his hometown. Mr. Chapin's initial plan was to establish the library in a new building on the land of his grandparents, William and Betsy (Alloway) Chapin. However, after learning through correspondence with his childhood friend, Ben Berkshire, that the Petersburg Christian Church was planning to build an annex, he negotiated a partnership agreement with Rev. Claude MacDonald. Mr. Chapin would purchase a collection of books and donate $10,000 toward the cost of building the annex. In return the library would be housed in the annex and administered by the Petersburg Christian Church.

In 1947, Mrs. Oleva Dolph, a teacher in Boone County since 1921, was hired as the first librarian. After receiving training at Cincinnati Public Library, she worked closely with Mr. Chapin to select books and prepare for opening the library to the public. When construction of the annex was delayed due to labor and material shortages following World War II, Mrs. Dolph opened the library in a corner of the Petersburg Christian Church on April 5, 1948.

On September 10, 1949, E.Y. Chapin returned to Petersburg for the dedication and grand opening of the Chapin Memorial Library. - the fulfillment of his dream. This was a momentous occasion for Petersburg and among those attending were the Rev. Tipton Carroll from Transylvania University and Miss Frances J. Porter, Director of the Library Extension Service for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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