Towanda's Public Library was the gift of Frank R. Welles, who left town in 1871 to attend the University of Rochester and subsequently enjoyed success establishing telephone systems in Europe. Welles also funded the Wyalusing library ( BR1). Henry O. Chapman was a New York architect whose roots in nearby Elmira, New York, may have brought him the commission (he never visited Towanda during planning or construction, which was supervised by Charles P. Welles, the donor's brother). Although modestly sized, the red brick and terra-cotta Flemish Renaissance building gains prominence from its handsomely terraced site, which was proposed by architect Thomas Schmitt, then in town for the construction of the courthouse ( BR7). The steep-sided hipped roof punctuated by copper-clad dormers connects a one-story semi-hexagonal bay with the principal facade element, a two-story bay capped by a stepped gable with a second-story elliptical window. Recessed between the bays is the basket-handle double-leaf entrance door with its original wrought-iron grilles and terracotta frame. The interior has changed little. When built, the library had closed stacks, necessitating a delivery desk on the west side of the reading room but that now gives access around it to the open stacks. A 1951 rear addition, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carl V. S. Patterson in memory of their son, blends smoothly with the original building.
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Towanda Public Library
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