The Tuxedo Park Library was built in the center of Town in 1901 and opened its doors in May 1902. Architect Bruce Price, who was a well-known architect in Canada and New York City, designed the library. Pierre Lorillard, millionaire tobacco magnate and a group of his friends commissioned Mr. Price to draw up a design for the library. The trustees of the library applied for and were granted an Association Charter from the New York State Board of Regents on December 19, 1901. The original trustees were: Charles B. Alexander, George F. Baker, Frederic R. Halsey, Price Collier, Augustus D. Juillard, Amos T. French, R. Fulton Cutting, Richard Mortimer, Paul Tuckerman, and Frederic de P. Foster. The first librarian was Miss Amy Sutton who was appointed in 1901.
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The operating library was only a small portion of the entire building. The building was designed to serve as a community center for the Townspeople, craftsmen and workers that helped to build Tuxedo Park’s large estates. The building housed an apartment on the second floor, a library, card room and public baths on the main floor and a bowling alley in the basement. The librarian lived in the apartment upstairs. For three cents, people could rent a towel at the boarding house across the street and come over to the library for a bath in the public bathrooms. The Tuxedo Fire Club rented the card room in the library for meetings and fund raising. The Tuxedo Fire Company actively used the bowling alley well into the 1950’s. It was the intent of the founding fathers that the building would be the center of community activity, and it was.
Because the community was a haven for the very rich and famous, at the turn of the century and through the years, the library has had the opportunity to serve such luminaries as: Augustus D. Juillard (an original Trustee); Fred Gwynne (we have many of the books that he wrote for children.); Katherine St. George; Robert Duvall; and others over the past century.
Much has changed over the years, but some things remain the same. The building is now used solely as a public library and is still the center of activity in our community. Besides our collection of over 76,000 items including books, DVDs, videos, audiobooks, magazines, music CD’s, databases, e-books, and government documents for circulation and online research, we also have public access computers for Internet, word processings, and reference. For a fee, the public may send a fax or make a photocopy.
The library offers many ongoing activities for children and adults alike. Our children’s services coordinator works closely with our school district and PTA to bring programs for all age levels in the promotion of reading, local history and technology. We coordinate programming with the Town Recreation Department for the summer months as a way of sharing resources, and provide outreach to the homebound and other local agencies by providing books and other materials. The library also holds regular story hours for pre-school and school age children and various parenting programs on infant and child care, discipline, and emergency care for toddlers.
Our services are far reaching even though we are a small community and a small library. The Tuxedo Park library belongs to a cooperative library system comprised of 47 libraries in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. The Ramapo Catskill Library System serves these libraries with free access by any resident in any community to the book holdings of any Ramapo Catskill member library.
System funding supports local libraries with grants for library construction, direct aid with matching funds for automation, outreach services such as a radio vision and large print materials for the visually impaired; ethnic materials for our foreign speaking patrons, and literacy training and tutoring services. Our patrons can also request books through electronic interlibrary loan, and our library system offers a delivery service between libraries to facilitate this service.
Through the years the library has maintained an extensive historical collection. This collection includes 400 volumes of books, and over 8,000 archival materials, including documents, slides and photographs of the history of the Town of Tuxedo, the Incorporated Village of Tuxedo Park, Arden and Southfields, as well as the surrounding communities of Rockland and Orange County.
The library has a very active Friends of the Library. This group of people made it there mission to help the library raise the necessary funds that allowed us to join the ANSER consortium for automated circulation through the Ramapo Catskill Library System. The Friends worked very hard running book sales, raffles, antique appraising programs, etc. to accomplish this task. The library started circulating materials on-line in June of 1993.
In 1992 the library embarked on a campaign to raise the funds necessary to modernize the library. At the end of October 1994 the library embarked on a major reconstruction plan to renovate and update the existing facility. The renovated building has given us the opportunity to expand our services and utilize all three floors of the building. The plan was designed by architect, Michael Esmay of Upper Nyack, New York and has utilized effective use of all existing space. Thomas Salierno, Tuxedo resident, and contractor was the Construction Manager for the job. The renovation was completed in October 1995 and was dedicated on April 27, 1996.
Sources: “The Tuxedo Park Library: Social Aspects of Growth” by Matilda A. Gocek