The Examiner

Community Celebrates Chappaqua Library’s Centennial Anniversary

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Community members spoke of the importance of the Chappaqua Library to the town over the years. Martin Wilbur photo.

Celebrating a major milestone doesn’t come very often, but last Saturday Chappaqua turned out to recognize quite an achievement.

This month marks the 100th anniversary since the Chappaqua Library was chartered, and while not the oldest library in Westchester County, it certainly has earned its place as a focal point for the hamlet and the Town of New Castle.

“This is a time to celebrate the Chappaqua Library as the center of the community, one where all people feel welcomed,” said Director Andrew Farber.

Last Saturday the celebratory program featured remarks from those closest to the library along with a tree dedication on its grounds and the burying of a time capsule in the courtyard that will enable future generations to better understand what life was like locally in 2022.

The new tree will mark time moving forward and the time capsule, which contains items such as photos of the library, library cards over the past 35 years, homemade COVID masks and various library materials, will be a way to preserve the past, said its Board President Elizabeth Hamyson.

Town Historian Gray Williams said in 1922 the original library association was founded in large part by community members Robert Haviland, who served as the first library board president, and prominent architect Alfred Bissell. They played key roles in establishing the library as a key part of the community in its earliest years.

The library’s initial location was a downtown storefront, which was quickly outgrown by the end of the 1920s. Its leaders raised money and built a new structure on Senter Street, which needed to be enlarged after World War II. That building today serves as the town’s community center, Williams said.

The Chappaqua Library continued to grow, and in the 1970s acquired the property on South Greeley Avenue, its current site. In 1972, the Chappaqua Library became a school district library, which solidified the library’s strong relationship with the schools since its inception, Williams said.

Since so many of the community’s founders were Quakers, including Haviland, and Bissell married a Quaker, the values they brought have played a large role for Chappaqua today.

“I believe that the community support for education and its support of intellectual pursuits can be traced in considerable measure to the Quakers who first settled here and continue to have a strong influence long after they ceased to be a majority,” Williams said.

Hamyson read a letter from former President Bill Clinton praising the library and the many programs and services it offers. Clinton wrote that one of the many joys of moving to Chappaqua more than 20 years ago has been the library, which he called “a richly rewarding asset for people of all ages and incomes.”

Clinton also thanked the library for its wide array of services and programs, including the many author signings. Both he and Hilary had signings scheduled when they each had their books released.

“When this time capsule is opened 25 years from now, I hope the library will still be in high hear with strong public support, a place where all who use it find something to learn and love,” Clinton wrote.

New Castle Supervisor Lisa Katz said the Chappaqua Library has something for everyone, from little children coming for story time to the outstanding programming it offers all patrons.

“There is so much that our library offers our community and we are really blessed to have them here, and I am wishing this library another hundred years of success and I know you’ll continue to grow,” Katz said.

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