Historic or Common Name: Peterborough Town Library
Description: Brick, 1-story w/above ground basement, Colonial Revival with semi-circular portico (added 1914)
Notes: architect G.S. Morison, portico added 1914 by his sister Mary Morison, additions Eben W. Jones Wing 1956-1957, 1976 (includes former sites of 8, 10 & 12 Concord)
SOURCE: Driemeyer, Laura; Laprey, Kari; Monroe, Lynn; and Hill, Teresa. New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, Area Form, Peterborough Downtown Historic District, June 2010, page 104
THE PETERBOROUGH TOWN LIBRARY was founded in 1833 and was the world's first free public library supported by taxation. It moved to its present location in 1893. The money for that building was donated with the stipulation that it be designed by George S. Morison, a noted bridge designer. The resulting Georgian Revival structure was evidently too stark for Morison's sister, Mary, who in 1914 paid for the addition of the semi-circular portico, which softened the facade. The modern wing on Concord Street dates from 1975.
SOURCE: A Walking Tour of PETERBOROUGH New Hampshire
Eben W Jones wing completed
Franklin residence razed. New wing and expanded parking.
SOURCE: Our Changing Town, Vol II, page 393
PET0023 2 Concord Street (US 202) Peterborough Town Library 1893 Contributing Building
The Peterborough Town Library, completed in 1893, is located at the northeast corner of the Main Street Bridge. The Peterborough Town Library was determined to be individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places in 2006. The building faces Main Street, with its modern entrance on Concord Street. The triangular shaped lot is adjacent to the Contoocook River and a mortared, rough cut, irregularly coursed retaining wall (originally built 1892, partially rebuilt 1939) extends along the west property line. 45
The main block is a restrained one-story brick building in the modified Georgian Revival style. The original rectangular main block, of fire-proof construction sits on an above grade brick foundation and rises to a gable roof, sheathed in slate, with integral brick chimneys at either end. The symmetrical thirteen-bay façade features a raised centered semi-circular entry porch supported by paired Corinthian columns, flanked by narrow 4/4 double-hung sash. A rough-cut sandstone water table runs along the tops of the above grade basement windows. The only other original decorative detailing is a denticulated cornice. The original main block was expanded in 1956 with the Eben W. Jones Wing, a brick rear ell in the same style as the main block, creating an L-shaped footprint. In 1976 the library was enlarged again with the construction of a modern addition adjacent to and north of the rear ell. The primary entry was relocated to the Concord elevation of this addition at that time. Two houses to the north of the library were demolished to accommodate each of the expansions. The Kyes-Sage House immediately to the north on Concord is now part of the library property (0.76 + 0.30 acre). The driveway and parking lot extend between the two buildings and toward the riverbank on the west.
Local resident and nationally recognized bridge engineer George Shattuck Morison (1842-1903) designed the original library building at the behest of Mrs. Nancy S. Foster (nee Smith) of Chicago and William H. Smith of Alton, Illinois, who had offered $10, 000 and $5,000, respectively, towards the construction of a library building in 1891. They requested Morison take charge of the matter and draw up the plans and supervise construction.46
The entry porch was added in 1914, funded by Morison's sister Miss Mary Morison, to relieve some of the severity of the original structure.
45 See historic photo for initially building. Annual Reports of the Town Officers of Peterborough, N.H. for the year ending January 31, 1939 and School District Officers for the year ending June 30, 1938 (Peterborough, NH: 1939), 37.