New Free Library Building Opening

The Formal Reception at the New Home of Andover Free Library Tuesday Night was a Pronounced Success.




History of Andover Free Library

The following is taken from the 1915 Annual Report of the Andover Free Library.  It was written by John E. Cannon and published in the Andover News.  Rewritten by William A. Greene Nov. 2004.

“The approach of the 50 anniversary of the founding of the first Library Society in Andover gives interest to a few of the outstanding facts concerning the establishment and growth of what is now the Andover Free Library.


In the spring of 1896 a “Cooperative Library” was formed with 85 subscribers, 105 books and a few magazines.  The library was housed in the old Corner Drug Store of Benedict & VanNoy on the corner of Main and Greenwood Streets.  After a couple of years, the people lost interest in the enterprise, mostly because there were no new books and no income from which to purchase any.

In 1898 a few citizens got together and organized the first FREE Library, with 214 books some few magazines and money subscribed to the amount of $184.  Rooms in the Metzger house were leased for its use.  A constitution was adopted in 1899 and in the same year the library was moved to the former B. C. Brundage law office where it remained until the new building was completed 14 years afterwards.


On December 1, 1904 the Andover Free Library was incorporated under the Sate Board of Regents and a permanent charter was issued.


Some of the facts leading up to the construction of the beautiful new building are interesting.  In 1911 our Library Board wrote Mr. Andrew Carnegie beseeching him to donate $5,000 for the erection of a library building in our town.  Being incorporated and having run successfully for several years, the gift was obtained with little difficulty.  One of the conditions of the grant, however, was that ten per cent of the cost of the building be appropriated annually by the people of Andover for its upkeep.  This appropriation was voted overwhelmingly at the next town meeting.


The matter of site was happily solved by  Mrs. J. M. Brundage graciously donating the land.  Mr. Otis Dockstader of Elmira was engaged as the architect.  He submitted plans for a building to cost $5,000.  But when Scott Prest of Andover saw these plans, instead of taking the job for $5,000 as most contractors would have done, he said that he could build a much better building for the $5,000.  So Mr. Dockstader took his plans and in a few days came back with more elaborate ones and when Mr. Prest inspected these, he again said that he could and would erect a still better building for the $5,000, one having floors of steel and concrete, with a tile roof and otherwise made fire proof.  Mr. Dockstader, who was very much surprised at this unusual attitude on the part of the prospective builder, again went home and drew plans and specifications for a building estimated to be worth $10,000.  These were the plans and specifications that were accepted and the building was erected by Mr. Scott Prest at his own figures of $4,750, leaving as Scott said, $250  out of the grant with which to install a furnace.  Besides all this, Mr. Prest put into the book cases and other parts of the trim, real oak, instead of cheaper materials specified.


This is how Andover came to have a $10,000 library building out of Mr. Carnegie’s $5,000 gift.”



(Transcribed from the Andover News, May 23, 1913.)
“Isn't it just splendid,” was the expression heard from every corner of the new library building Tuesday evening, at the public reception given in honor of the opening of the Andover Free Library’s new home. That sentence fit the occasion better than any other and the large crowd of Andover people entering the completed and well furnished library for the first time were not slow in forming the words.

The public reception was a great success in every particular. The simplicity of the affair, together with the cosmopolitan spirit entered largely into the pleasure of the occasion.

The reception committee, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Brundage, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Cannon, Mr. and Mrs. John Common, Mr. and Mrs. B. S. Brundage, Mrs. Roxanna Burrows, Mrs. Gertrude Burrows, and Mrs. Addie Coleman, had a hearty welcome for all. The Bloss orchestra rendered a fine instrumental program. The decorating committee consisting Mrs. J. E. Cannon and Mrs. Gertrude Burrows, had the rooms tastefully decorated with potted plants and flowers, while the entire [ensemble] were served fruit punch in the assembly room in the basement.

Of our new library building Andover people justly feel proud. It is a beauty, both from the exterior and interior, and reflects much credit upon the officers and trustees of Andover Free Library, and the architect and contractor who constructed the building. While we are jubilant over the possession of our fine new building, we also appreciate the fact that but for the generous donation received, the new library building in Andover would not now exist. Frankly the whole beautiful structure is a gift to Andover people. Andrew Carnegie gave $5,000 toward its construction. Mrs. J. M. Brundage gave the site, which is not only in the central part of the village, but one of the [most] valuable sites on Main Street.

A find modern library building, well-equipped and furnished, has been the dream of those most interested in the welfare of the Andover free library since its organization in [18??]. This dream has now become a reality. The building stands on South Main street, on the lot formerly known as the B. C. Brundage lot, between the Andover State Bank building and the News Printing House. It is of fire-proof construction, 47 feet on Main Street and 34 feet deep. It is bill of buff brick, trimmed with gray brick, and has a tile roof. It has one story and a basement. The main floor will be entirely occupied as a library room. The basement has an assembly room, trustees room, and furnace room. All floors are of re-enforced concrete. The wood work, furniture and book racks are all harmoniously finished in golden oak, in the walls are decorated in terra cotta.

The short history of Andover free library at this time will be of interest.

History of Andover Free Library

A co-operative library having 105 volumes was organized in 1896. It had eighty-two subscribers. This run a year or so, when the members seemed to lose interest in it, as there were no new books being added, and it was decided to donate the books to the Lucy Stone Club and Hawthorne club who were at that time laying the foundation for a free library. The tender of the books was accepted by the women constituting the membership of the two clubs and a meeting of all the women interested in the movement for a free library was called to lay plans to solicit books and funds for that purpose. This meeting was held on the evening of November 19, 1898, at the M. E. church. Mrs. E. B. Fries, of Friendship, was present and assisted in the movement by answering questions and explaining the way the Friendship Free Library was started. Later a soliciting committee was appointed who divided the territory into divisions and made a systematic canvass for pledges of money and books. The result of this solicitation together with the untiring efforts other clubs and various woman organizations, suppers, entertainments and benefits, held in the interest of the library, make possible the organization of the Andover Free Library Association on October 15 1899. The organization meeting was held at G. A. R. Hall and the following persons were elected the first trustees: Jesse L Grantier, H. A. Benedict, Miss Bell Brundage, Mrs. Thomas McTighe and Mrs. H. C. Coleman.

The library started with 214 books valued by State Inspector Eastman at $150, together with books and obtainable from the State to the amount of $75.00 and $184.00 in cash.

Today [1913] Andover free library has over 3000 books which Armand and 400 reference books that may be consulted in the library. Last year [1912] there was loaned from the library 9451 books.

C. E. Brown, Andover’s popular furniture dealer, donated a fine seven piece wicker set to the assembly room of the new library, Tuesday evening, at the opening.

The following have kindly donated books to the Andover library during the past year [1912-1913]: Mr. A. B. Richardson, Mrs. L. C. Van Woert, Mr. J. Comstock, Walter Perry.