Adriance Memorial Library

There is little doubt that the Adriance Memorial Library is a fabulous addition to the architectural landscape of the City of Poughkeepsie. Though this is not the first location of Poughkeepsie’s library. In fact, the library seemed to move around from place to place in its early days of existence without a home of its own. There appears to have been a library for public use in this area going back to the late 18th century when it was part of a local school. Sometime in the late 1830s, the library went from the Lancaster School which was located on Church Street to S. H. Bogardus’ harness store at 324 Main Street (that’s convenient, you could get a new harness for the farm and check out a book on plowing techniques!).

It stands to reason that as the number of volumes grew, so did the need for space. After the act in 1843 which established the Board of Education and included the overseeing of libraries, our library moved again to a location near the back of the First Reformed Church on Union Street. Its next stop was the Court house building in 1862 where it remained for about 10 years until a high school/library building was built in 1872 on the corner of Washington St. and Lafayette Pl. (see image on right). The library took up the first floor of the building while the high school was located upstairs. At that point the library had between four and five thousand books. Over the next 20 years the population of the school would grow as would the collection of books, by 1894 there was a circulation of over 45,000 books and materials (today we have a circulation of over 400,000). The library had clearly outgrown its space.

In a historical sketch of the Poughkeepsie Public Schools and Library written in 1894, it clearly states the need for the library to have its own space. The librarian was storing books in various places of the building “which are both inaccessible and inconvenient, and had they not been books which are seldom called for, it would have been almost impossible to get along with such accommodations, or rather the lack of accommodations.” A couple of years later the children of John P. and Mary Adriance decided they could best pay tribute to their parents (and also help the city with their need for a new library) by donating $100,000 for the construction of a library with the stipulation that the city purchased the land. In 1896 a site on Market St. was chosen (you can see the building that originally stood here in the photo on the right).

Charles Frederick Rose was hired to design the structure, though sadly not much is known about him other than he was originally from Poughkeepsie and made his way to New York City. The building was designed to be fire-proof and although reports at the time described it as being in the ‘French-Renaissance’ style it is actually a Classical Revival building. The builders were a locally based company, Titus & Round, and you can see them placing the cornerstone in the image on the right. The marble that they worked with in the construction came from nearby Adams MA and the Adams Marble Company. The Adriance family paid for every detail of the library, including the shelving and the Tiffany brass plaques that hang in the entryway dedicated to John P. and Mary Adriance. The library opened to the public on October 18th 1898. Since then, the library’s collections would continue to grow as the population’s needs continue to grow. The library was expanded again in 1922 and again in 2009, but the original Adriance footprint still remains.


View more images from our historic PPLD archive here.

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, 15 Oct 1898

New York Times, 19 Oct 1898