History of the Library

Early in 1902, at the urging of a small group of local women who saw the need for a public library, a project was launched for the establishment of the Greenwich Free Library. Greenwich was not without a library through the earlier years. There was a public, though not free, library in Greenwich as early as 1833. It was a modest venture on a very small scale and has left little record of its history. The Greenwich Academy, a private school founded in the late 1830’s slowly accumulated a library which for a small fee was available to the general public. For the Greenwich Free Library, the Turner house on Main Street was purchased, a charter was applied for, trustees were elected, an auxiliary was organized, and nearly $2000 of the $3800 purchase price of the building was raised. By 1939, the library had outgrown its quarters. The Thompson house on Main Street was purchased in 1944 for $5000 and the library moved in on September 1 of that year.

An Endowment Fund was established in 1916 with a donation by I.C. Blandy and it grew over the years, providing the impetus for the 1944 Thompson house purchase. In 1965 the library became a member of the Southern Adirondack Library System. 1965 also saw the addition of the I.V.H. Gill Historical Room, and in 1969 the Friends of the Greenwich Free Library was organized. It became increasingly apparent that the library was outgrowing its space and in March of 1972 a lot at the corner of Main and Academy streets was purchased. Construction on the present facility began in late September 1973 and the building was completed and opened to the public on March 18, 1974.

A need for expansion became apparent and construction began in February of 2002. At completion, the library expansion from 3,340 to 5,540 square feet increased space in the adult section as well as the children’s section of the library. The new reading room provided quiet space for patrons to enjoy magazines, newspapers, and books. The historic Gill Room was located in the basement in two rooms, giving patrons and visitors an enlarged space to do research on local history and genealogy. Additional storage space provided the Friends of the Library an area to have book sales. The new Community Room provided a beautiful space for meetings and programs.

Starting in 2016, we embarked on a program of building renovations and improvements that included updates to heating and air conditioning, insulating and waterproofing our basement and the creation of a reading and gathering space on our covered back porch. In 2018, the basement was completely renovated creating new public meeting spaces, a new Friends book sale room and a new I.V.H. Gill Local History Room. In 2021, the main floor was renovated and included enhancements to the children’s room, our circulation area, and the fiction and nonfiction collections.