The Last Page – Carnegie Library Preserved

For many years, years after I served on the Library Board shepherding the school/village/town supported library into its own entity with its own tax district, I promoted keeping the library in the village.

Believe it now, or not, at that time there was a faction of the community that wanted to establish a new center of Saugerties outside of the Village. They wanted to move the Town Hall (including the Town Court) away from the center of the Village. They wanted to take away the Library too, essentially leaving the Village without the community services necessary to sustain it.

Well, the efforts to keep the Town Hall from moving off Main Street failed, but we (by then there were many people fighting the “good” fight) managed to keep it in the Village – although just barely. Most people drive to the Town Hall now that it is in the old shoe factory on High Street. But – it is still in the Village, and you could walk there.

When the Library decided to move we continued the fight. I remember going to one board meeting with a stack of reports and articles to support my position. I was asked not to read them, it would be too time consuming.

Having been on the board, I knew that if I read them they were part of the minutes, and if I didn’t read them they went unread and uncommented upon. I read them. The board was made up (and usually is made up) of local, caring and hardworking people who love the library. We just had different opinions about where the library should be located. When asked if we could agree to disagree, I admitted we could. I would keep my belief, supported by every study and every poll on libraries which concluded that libraries figured prominently when considering what were ideal places to live, and they could keep theirs, without any supporting documentation, based solely on their uninformed opinions.

Eventually reason prevailed. Our nearly 100 year old Carnegie Library now has a new multi-million dollar addition designed to match the original architecture, which in turn was designed to match the 3 story elementary school beside it. The last page of the difficult transition from a cramped and antiquated facility was turned today with a final auction of the pieces that didn’t fit in the new library.

There were a few old windows (in casings), some molding, some doors, 9 wall gas lamps, and 20 boxes of books in the auction. None of the books sold, and not all of the windows. Curiously, each of the windows was stenciled on an interior casing (so it could not be seen after installation) :

JOHN MC KEEFREY.

SAUGERTIES. N.Y.

a name and craftsman unknown to me for now. Perhaps Mr. Mc Keefrey will merit a future post. Meanwhile, what am I going to do with the antique stuff I bought?

I now own 3 painted wall-mount gas lamps from the original building. They were the primary source of light back then. I’m told the paint will come off easily enough to reveal the brass and copper fixtures. They were $7 each. I’ll probably clean them up and may install them when I renovate my Jane Street house. If I’m flush enough they’ll will be working gas lamps, if not, they will be ornaments, remnants of what every older building in the Village used to have.

The front door of the library is another matter.  The original front door was two single-panel glass doors, each 89×35 inches. They auctioned them off separately. I bought one for $20. Imagine – a 100 year old oak and glass door with 3 big hinges for $20! It’s in very good shape, but I bought it for the history. I’m sorry I didn’t get the other one, but it was difficult enough getting one in my PT Cruiser! I’m thinking it will become a linen closet or pantry door when I finally do renovate. Until then it is history, stored in my old firehouse of a garage.

In the “it’s really a small town” department, when I went to pay for my things I found I’d forgotten to bring money with me! Two people offered to lend it to me, but the library folks said to drop off a check at the library later.  I wrote them a check for $50 and dropped it off within the hour. Would that happen to you where you live?

And so, another chapter ends. We can close the book on the transition from old library to New Library. Its history is preserved, but what will they do with the leftover books?

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About richardfrisbie

I'm a professional baker, reader, bookseller, publisher, columnist, photographer, cook, hiker, kayaker, freelance writer, and workaholic who likes to garden
This entry was posted in historic preservation, journalism, New York History Books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Last Page – Carnegie Library Preserved

  1. Wilber Balko says:

    I genuinely enjoy looking through on this website , it has great blog posts. “He who sees the truth, let him proclaim it, without asking who is for it or who is against it.” by Henry George.

  2. I dont know what to say. This blog is fantastic. Thats not genuinely a genuinely massive statement, but its all I could come up with after reading this. You know so a lot about this subject. So significantly to ensure that you produced me want to learn more about it. Your blog is my stepping stone, my friend. Thanks for the heads up on this subject.

  3. Addendum: I went back to the library and asked about the other door. It was still available so I bought it, too. Now I own the double doors that used to be the front entrance to our 100 year old Carnegie Library. They even came with the keys!

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