National Historic Place

The Claverack Free Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (1)

 

The Claverack Free Library is located on NY 23B near the center of the hamlet of Claverack, New York, United States. It is a small Colonial Revival building constructed in the early 1930s from a design by local architect Lucius Moore.

The library itself formally dates to 1891. It had been in several buildings before the expansion of nearby NY 9H forced it to move a short distance west to its current building. In 1998 the library building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The library began informally in the parlors of the nearby Oakledge mansion sometime in the 1880s. Later it moved to an old stone house across what is now Route 9H from the current building. In 1891 it was formally organized as the Claverack Free Library and Reading Room Association.

That organization soon bought the 1.5-acre (6,100 m2) lot where the current structure is located. An old store that had also served as a post office was converted into the first dedicated library building. It remained adequate for many years, but in the 1920s began to show its age.

Forty years later, in 1931, the state Highway Department was planning to expand Route 9H, an eastern loop from US 9 between Bell Pond to the south and Kinderhook to the north that avoids the city of Hudson. It would be necessary to condemn the library building, and after several months of negotiations the association accepted an offer of $5,000 ($86,000 in contemporary dollars. This would later rise to almost the full $7,800 it would cost to build the present library ($135,000 in contemporary dollars. The association turned to alumni of Claverack College, closed 30 years earlier, to make up the difference. It rented space in several houses and other locations for the year it took to build the new library.

The association hired Hudson architect Lucius Moore to adapt a design from models sent to them by the New York State Education Department. They selected a small Colonial Revival building that had been used, and built for a similar cost, by the library in the Long Island community of Bellport. The model was slightly adapted to be more consistent with local buildings from the Colonial era. The wideboard siding is beaded, as is the case on 18th-century Claverack houses, and the roof pitch steeper than the original design.

The first association meeting in the new library was held late in 1932, although the building was not yet quite finished. A thousand-dollar bequest from one local estate paid for the furnishings. Moore bought the bronze sconces on the chimney in New York City at his own expense. The woodwork was custom-milled for the library.

Since its construction, the only significant alteration was the addition of the west wing in 1950. Moore was still practicing, and designed it to be completely sympathetic to the original building. The local Lions Club donated money for the lighting of the new wing.

 

(1) Claverack Free Library. (2013, September 13). Retrieved September 16, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claverack_Free_Library