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Literary Hall

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1869–1870. Northwest corner of Main and High sts.
  • Literary Hall

Adding distinction to Romney's major street intersection, this rectangular red brick building was built to house one of the community's most cherished institutions, established in 1819 as the Polemic Society of Romney. By the 1830s, under the name of the Literary Society of Romney, the membership had accumulated a 3,000book library, held regular meetings, and sponsored an academy, the Classical Institute. The society's library was decimated during the Civil War, and in 1870 members offered the building that housed the Classical Institute to the state for schools for the deaf and blind. After the Literary Society held its last meeting in February 1886, the hall served as a library and Masonic hall until 1974. It is now in private ownership.

The hall is something of an architectural anomaly: its basic design and fenestration patterns hark back to early Federal and Greek Revival prototypes, while its details are more characteristic of the Victorian era. Elementary brick pilasters separate three bays of the facade and five bays along each side wall. Prominent corbeled brick pendants help support a raking cornice on the facade. The small lunette lighting the attic is perhaps the most “old-fashioned” element of all and may have been based on the one in the earlier courthouse, which stood across the street. The hall has a strong architectural kinship to the nearby Romney Presbyterian Church.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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