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Maclure Library

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1895, Chappell and Smith. 840 Arch St., Pittsford village
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

The Maclure Library, descended from the oldest subscription library association in the state (1796), is housed in a building that resulted from two important Vermont initiatives. The first was legislation in 1894 that offered state support to encourage towns to assume responsibility for their libraries. The second was the Sons of Vermont movement, which stimulated gifts from former Vermonters for their communities of origin. Pittsford took responsibility for its library in 1894. The following year Henry F. Walker of New York City donated a new building in honor of his brother Stephen and commissioned New York City architects Chappell and Smith, who subsequently designed the Vergennes City Hall (1897). George S. Chappell's Colonial Architecture in Vermont (1918) featured buildings from Vergennes, Windsor, Middlebury, Rutland, and Castleton.

Along with other first-generation town libraries in the state (Hardwick, Danville, and Bradford), Pittsford's reflects the impact of H. H. Richardson's Billings Library at the University of Vermont (CH19.2). Most obviously Richardsonian are the round-arched entrance, the stair tower that provides a visual accent, and the windows that reveal interior functions through their scale and placement. At the same time, crispness replaces exuberance and there is an indication of a Beaux-Arts move toward more classical formality. The plan is essentially symmetrical, a T with reading rooms and vestibule across the front and a beam-ceilinged stack room centered at the rear. The fine masonry combines a rock-faced marble basement, carefully set with red mortar to coordinate with the red slate of the hipped roofs, and rust-colored Roman brick enlivened with molded window surrounds, a terra-cotta sill-level meander frieze, and a molded dentil course below the eaves.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Maclure Library", [Pittsford, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 67-68.

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