The first library in St. Albans was transferred here from Northfield along with shops and general offices organized in 1855 and called "the Vermont Central Railroad Library Association" it was based on a thousand dollar railroad bond, sale of stock and personal assessment of the members, who might belong although they were not railroad employees. Approximately 2,600 volumes were available in a large room on the ground floor of the main office building of the Railroad.
A public-spirited citizen named Henry J. Hunt left one thousand dollars in his will (1861) for the establishment of a public library, provided the village raised a matching amount. Trustees were appointed and in about a year, the amount was at hand. Romeo J. Hoyt was chairman of the board and George F. Houghton, secretary and the collection was housed at the office of the town clerk, Cassius Farrar, who served as librarian. From 1866 to 1879 Amos C. Wardwell served as librarian and a collection of books about agriculture which had been bought by subscription and also placed in the town clerk's office was added. In 1877, the books were placed in a library reading room furnished by Mr. Herbert Brainard, in a business block he owned on North Main Street at the corner of Center Street. A Franklin Literary Club was formed in 1878 by a group of men, who had a room in the "Harvey Block" which was then between Kingman Street and the present Opera house-Doolin Block. They subscribed to magazines and newspapers and gathered for reading and conversation and "intellectual pursuits". The next year the Literary Club and the St. Albans Library joined together and elected Miss Annie Thorne to preside over the collections which were moved to Kingman Street. The library was open every day except Sunday at least part of the time. Mr. Horatio Seymour donated five hundred dollars for the purchase of new books. The readers of the community began to approve annual appropriations and to desire and use reference books, charts, maps and all types of reading material, in a collection of three thousand volumes.
After the Great Fire of 1895 consumed most of the books, those that had been in circulation and thus were saved, were relocated in a Main Street Block at what is now 82 North Main Street, where the Knights of Columbus rooms are in 1976. A permanent and attractive home for all these library collections had to wait a few years until the present St. Albans Free Library was completed in 1902.
The new library building on Maiden lane was completely finished in 1902 by the W. B. Fonda Company. Gov. John Gregory Smith had provided in his will (1891) a sum for a library building and also money for a soldier's monument. The family, who were executors and executrices of the will, finally settled on the idea of a memorial hall on the second floor of the building which they caused to be erected for the use of the veterans of the civil war and their organization, Alonzo Hurlbut Post No. 60, Grand Army of the Republic as long as this group should exist. They also provided for the fine bronze plaque with its stirring message that was affixed to the entrance-porch wall on the brick library, which is situated on a lot 87 feet by 130 feet. The Great Fire of 1895 had destroyed many of the books in the former library collection; those in circulation being gathered in, this remainder was housed in rooms in the "Paige" block on North Main Street now occupied by the Knights of Columbus. and also in City Hall. The new brick building was planned for 16,000 volumes. The St. Albans Free library is governed by a board of trustees. Three from the Town and six from the City. The fine beveled glass window on the stair landing and the curved brick pillars are interesting architectural details. Annual appropriations by city and town and special gifts support the library now. ~ St. Albans Through the Years ~
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