By Shannon Butler
Did you know that the library has a big birthday coming up? More specifically, the anniversary of the opening of Adriance Memorial Library! Save the date, October 21, 2023, for the special celebration event. We will honor the library namesake and benefactors, the Adriance Family, who financed the construction of this building through a donation on behalf of the family. Over the past century, the library has expanded, both in collection and in size, to include several branches and partnerships, but it would not have been possible without first establishing a permanent location.
The public library for the City of Poughkeepsie bounced around quite a bit during the 19th century. It started out at 324 Main Street, then moved to Union Street. From there it moved into the courthouse for a spell, and then to the newly built high school in 1872, which was located on the corner of Washington Street and Lafayette Place. It wasn’t until the deaths of John Peter Adriance, who died in 1891, and his wife, Mary Platt Adriance, who died in 1895, that the funds for the creation of a new library became available. In the summer of 1896, their children and other surviving family members decided to donate $100,000 for the construction of the library, with the agreement that the City of Poughkeepsie would purchase the land for the site.
Charles Frederick Rose, an English architect who had lived for a time in the City of Poughkeepsie, was hired to design the building in the Italianate style of the Beaux Arts tradition. The construction firm of Titus and Round was brought in to construct the building. In 1898, the Poughkeepsie Eagle News published an article reading, “All the scaffolding has been removed from the building, the exterior being finished. Inside, the plastering is finished, and the ornamental work produces a very fine effect, especially under the dome.” That ornamental work still holds up nicely over a century later (though not without periodic repairs and restorations).
At the opening ceremony, the Reverend Harris E. Adriance gave a speech with his siblings by his side, and handed the keys to the building to the mayor of the city, J. Frank Hull. Since that day, the building on Market Street has grown, with additions in 1922 and again in 2007.
We hope you’ll join the celebration on October 21 as we pay tribute to our founders’ with lots of games, exhibits, and fun activities. We look forward to continuing to serve our community for many more years to come.
History of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Kira Thompson
Historical Sketch of the Poughkeepsie Public Schools and Public Library from 1843 to 1893, George E. Cramer, E.Q. Eldridge, J.S. Van Cleef
Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 25 Aprill 1898, 15 Oct 1898, 19 Oct 1898
A25-1LD19 – The house previously located on the site of the library. Circa 1890s LH Collections
A01LD19 – Celebration of the laying of the cornerstone for the Adriance Memorial Library building. 1897 LH Collections
A34LD19 – Front view of the Adriance Memorial Library. LH Collections