Friday, August 23, 2013
1952 Kimball Public Library, Randolph, Vermont
[LIB9737] - History of Kimball Public Library
In 1903, Col. Robert J. Kimball, a Randolph native who became a successful financier in New York City, donated the library bearing his name. The red-brick building, located next door to the Chandler Music Hall on Main Street, is an impressive monument to Kimball who at age 13 began his career as a newsboy and telegrapher for the Vermont Central Railroad.
At the March 1896 town meeting not long before the building was completed, the Randolph Public Library was established under the law of 1894. The state sent 134 books, space was "fitted out" over Morton's drug store in the DuBois and Gay block, and the library opened on November 14 with Maud Blanchard as librarian. The following March, the King's Daughters, the Randolph Book Club, and individual donors added to the core collection. In 1898, the Ladies' Library Association, an earlier literary group, donated its 1500 books. The following year, the Sarah Jane Crocker estate provided $3500 for the library's use.
After Kimball offered to give $10,000 to build a library, the town acted swiftly in acquiring the $3200 property that included the site, a tenement, and a barn. The choice was pleasing to Kimball, for he had lived in the house as a boy. At a special meeting on November 30, the "wide-awake citizens of Randolph" accepted the generous proposal.
The architects were H.M. Francis & Sons from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and the contract for construction was given to Wiley & Foss from the same town. In the early spring of 1902 the site was cleared and the building begun. Dedication ceremonies were held on February 24, 1903. At the ceremony, Col. Robert J. Kimball stated, "In making this presentation to you we do not attach to it any conditions. Our only desire is that you shall be liberal in your appreciation of the value it may be, by giving it such cordial and large appropriations for maintenance as will make it most useful to yourselves, your children and to generations to come." The Town of Randolph has followed that directive faithfully to the present day. [Website]