Rockingham Free Public Library

65 Westminster Street
Bellows Falls, VT 05101

802-463-4270

HISTORY:

On October 28, 1799, the Rockingham Library Society was established by a small group of settlers from the village of Rockingham, which had a population of approximately 1,000. Shares were sold at $1.00 each. During the following decades, the Library grew and on September 6, 1887, it officially became the Rockingham Free Public Library. Successful fundraising ensued, enabling the Library Room to open in 1888, on the first floor of the newly built Opera House. 

In 1908, Rockingham citizens voted to purchase land on Westminster Street, to provide an annual allowance for library maintenance, and to accept the gift of $15,000 from the philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to build a library. Designed in the Classical Revival style by the Fitchburg, MA firm of Francis and Son, it became one of four libraries in Vermont to be built with Carnegie funds.

On October 8, 1908 the Library’s cornerstone was laid before a large gathering, including the Librarian, Mrs. Nellie Plantier. A year later, on November 23, 1909, the formal dedication was held in the brand new Library, with A.N. Swain, President of the Board of Trustees, presiding.

Two decades later, in 1929, a Children’s Room was added to the rear of the building, and in 1968, a two-floor addition was built to provide a new meeting space and an expanded Children’s Room. In 2000, the Friends of the Library Association helped purchase new flooring and carpeting. Using funds from the Freeman Foundation, an accessible entry and elevator were added in 2003. Today, the Library continues to be a thriving center of activity, serving all the residents of Rockingham, from Bellows Falls to Saxton’s River to Cambridgeport and everywhere in between!

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