The Richards Library

“Of the several libraries located in Warren County, the Richards Library, was one that was founded by a large individual gift.  Miss Clara King Richards of Warrensburgh and her sister, Mrs. Mary Richards Kellogg who resided in Elizabethtown, presented this as a free gift to the town.

At the beginning of 1890, The Warrensburgh Circulating Library had been set up.  This was located in the Church of the Holy Cross and consisted of about 200 volumes.  Proving very useful, it soon became necessary to enlarge this site.  Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Kellogg had built and equipped, at their own expense, the building constructed of granite stone. This was the new home of the library.

Located at the corner of Elm Street and Library Avenue, the building was begun in 1900 by Jonah Hess, contractor of Johnstown, who during the preceding year had built the high school building on the opposite corner from where the (former) Post Office now stands. The granite (actually dolomitic limestone) used in the building was quarried on the farm of James Hammond in North Caldwell.

In the month of December 1900, the work was completed and the library was opened to the public on August 13, 1901.

Being exceedingly popular, it was found advisable to enlarge the building.  In 1911, an addition to the building nearly doubled the capacity.

Miss Richards and Mrs. Kellogg provided a fund for the perpetual support of the library. One hundred thousand dollars as an endowment was left from their estate and income from this has supported the library ever since (Note: A NY State Library Construction grant was used to complete the current expansion of the library in October of 2013).

On December 24, 1914, an overheated pipe or furnace in the basement started a fire and the building was burned to the extent that only the outer walls of stone and the chimney were left standing.  The total loss was estimated at $18,000.

Seth A. Reed and other workers saved many irreplaceable and rare curios in the museum.  Among these were an ancient Korean chest, given by Cordelia Allen of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, and many other valuable and interesting articles that Mrs. Kellogg and Miss Richards had gathered in their travels abroad.

Realizing the importance of the library, interested citizens rebuilt it in 1915.  One of the financial contributions came in this letter from a wealthy businessman who previously resided in Warrensburgh:

September 2, 1915                                          Buffalo, N.Y.
                                                                       August 23, 1915

My Dear Miss Richards:

  I see by The News that a lawn party is to be held this week
to raise money to purchase books in place of those burned at
the fire of the Richards Library.
I wish to add my mite and enclose herewith check payable
to your order for $100.

                                                           Very truly yours,
                                                          Randolph McNutt

The first Board of Trustees included Miss Richards, Mrs. Kellogg, Dr. D.B. Howard, Ezra W. Benedict and Rev. Guy Harte Purdy.  The librarian was Miss Mary Crandall, who served from the time the new building was opened to the public until her resignation in 1943, a total of 42 years.  Mrs. George (Jennie) Cameron, an able assistant to Miss Crandall since 1933, succeeded her as librarian and served until 1974 when Sarah M. Farrar assumed the duties.  Sarah retired at the end of 2013 and Michael Sullivan became the current Director/Librarian on 1 January 2014.

A children’s room was added in 1963, and in 1964 the Albert Emerson wing was added.  Friends of Richards Library organized in 1968.  Extensive renovations were made in 1974″*

In 2003, funds were raised to again expand the library.  A generous gift of matching funds, in the amount of $50,000, was given by local philanthropist Charles A. Woods to assist in accomplishing the task.  Additionally, Mrs. Grace Hastings willed $100,000 to The Richards Library to initiate the building fund.  In order to fully complete the project, the Board of Trustees initiated and acquired local and renewable funding to provide the means for administrative support.  As noted earlier, the completion of the addition was accomplished by a N.Y.S. Library Construction Grant and The Richards Library “re-opened” in October of 2013.

*  Warren County Historical Society.  Reflections and Recollections:  Of The Town With A Past, Warrensburgh, New York.  The Greenwood Publishing Company, 2002.  42-44.  Print. (Permission to reproduce granted by The Warren County Historical Society, December, 2013)