Growing up in Warren I went to the Warren Library quite often. I assumed libraries in other towns were the same as ours. I had no idea just how incredibly lucky we are to have such an asset.
Recently, Kitty Hagberg wrote a fabulous article about the Warren Library. It was the front page story in the latest issue of Stepping Stones, the Historical Society’s regular newsletter. The Library here as a service has been going for 150 years!
Doing a little digging I found a great quote from Chase Putnum. Chase to me, is the preeminent local historian. He said that doing the history of the Warren Public Library is like trying to hold on to a slippery fish! What little research I have done, I agree with him! If you go back to the very first group of Warren’s community leaders, there were discussions about a library as far back as 1830!
Andrew Jackson was in the White House! Thomas Struthers was not alone in the pursuit of forming a Library. He recruited several of Warren’s most notable founders, Lansing Wetmore, Judge Schofield and Abner Hazeltine. The group originally planned to contribute their personal libraries to get it all started.
The group worked on the project for decades. The first library was located in the Warren Academy, then the Warren YMCA and finally the First Presbyterian Church. It wasn’t until 1873 that Struthers offered to build a structure to house the library if Warren would provide suitable property for it.
Eventually The Struthers Library Theatre building opened to the task. The theatre was a flat surface room with a stage. It was a much simpler room at the time. Struthers’ plan was that the building would be self-sustaining from rents collected from The local Masonic Lodge, the U.S. Postal Service and others.
From what I’ve learned, the actual library was in the building rent free.
The Library Theatre has evolved into an overall community asset completely on its own. In a future Piece of the Past I’ll look into the present library building and its history. The Market Street Library is over 100 years old and continues to expand and update services to remain a great example of what community can accomplish .