A History of the Canaan Public Library Building
The Canaan Public Library had its inception in 1878, when 24 men had
themselves incorporated as "proprietors of the Wilshire Public Library Association" (p.
1), and, on 22 April, met at the Masons' Hall in Canaan Village and chose a committee of
three men, Joseph Barrett, Abel Prescott, and George W. Johnson, to "draft a code of By-
Laws for the government of the Association" (p. 3). The Library, and the Association,
were named for George Wilshire, who had made a large donation in cash to establish a library in [Canaan], and also
furnished the Same with a Seal, and has also contributed, very recently
fifty volumes of new and valuable Books to Said Library (p. 18).
On 21 January, 1881, the members of the Association voted unanimously "to
extend to George Wilshire Esqr. their sincere and heartfelt thanks, for his generosity and
liberality in funding and sustaining an Association, which affords pleasure and instruction
to its members, and will tend to elevate in no small degree, the community in which it is
established" (p. 18).
For the first ten years of its existence, the Association's annual meetings were
held at "the School House in district 6," that is in Canaan Village (pp. 13-26). The exact
location of the Library is not known; but the members of the Association met at the
School House in 1886 and "Voted that the Directors be instructed to pay George W.
Johnson for the use of his building for the Library, & for his Services as Librarian" (p.
25); and "G.W.Johnson's store is shown on the map in Figure 1 on the east side of the
Hill Road, just north of the Smith Hill Road.
On the first Monday of 1887 the Association met in the School House (p. 26). The
annual meeting in 1888 was at "A.B.Pennys office in Canaan Village" (p. 27).
Thereafter, the annual meetings of the Association were often held at George W.
Johnson's store; but, in 1897, the Association met again "at the School House in Canaan
Village" (p. 45). What may have been the last meeting of the Wilshire Public Library Association
took place "at P.O building" on 6 October, 1905, and was recorded on p. 47 of the
Minutebook by F.I. Furber, Secretary.
The Wilshire Public Library Association was succeeded by the Prescott Free
Library Association, which met to elect officers in April, 1907 (p. 47) and April, 1908 (p.
48). At a meeting at the Town Hall on 6 January, 1911, the members "Voted to Have the
following officers the President Vice President Sec & Treas to procure a location,
Librarian and a Contract of same for one year" (p. 50). Where the Library was at this
time is not recorded; but it was "Voted to have the officers see to having a new cubbard
for books" (p. 50).
The Association had its March, 1911, meeting at "the Post Office,"
(p. 51). On 28 February, 1912, "the Prescott free Library Asso" met "at the Library
rooms" (pp. 52, 57). In 1914, the annual meeting took place on 10 January "in Harry
Harris store" (p. 65). At this meeting it was decided to call a special meeting on 17
January to discuss the subject of "removing the 'Prescott Free Library' to a room by
itself, and out of the public stores" (p. 66). It was also voted that "if the Library is to be
moved then the board of Directors find a suitable place for library on Main St" (p. 66).
At the special meeting, held on 17 January at the Town Hall, the Association voted on whether or not to move the Library - "15 in favor of moving it - and 6 against it" (p. 67); and on 4 March, 1914, the Prescott Free Library was moved from the store of A.J. Keene to a room in the Grange building on Main Street by the "Trustees" of the P.F.L Association. The ladies Ola Maxfield, Lillian Purrinton, Dilla Harris, Mabel Harris, Murle Harris, Clara Moody, Idella Harrington, Harriette Lord, Gladys Nelson, and Gertrude Moody worked all the after-noon repairing books. Gave their time to help the Library and save the money it would cost (p. 67).
The Library was opened in the new room in the Grange Hall on 14 March, 1914,
"at 1 o'clock P.M." (p. 68); but plans to move the Library to yet another location were
already underway. On 13 March, the day before the move to the Grange Hall, Helen G.
Tuttle and John R. McClellan (Trustee under the Van Ransalaer Tuttle deed of trust)
signed a deed (see Figure 2) conveying a parcel of land on Main Street to "the Inhabitants of the Town
of Canaan to be used for a site for a Public Library." This was a lot on Main Street
bounded "on the south by the road leading from Skowhegan to Pittsfield, … on the north
by the Carrabassett Stream, so called…".
Figure 2 Copy Of Deed
At the annual meeting in the Town Hall on 27 March, 1924, President Ola
Maxfield appointed a committee "to confer with the Selectmen to see what can be done
to clean up Library lot" (p.109). At the annual meeting four years later, on 14 March,
1928, the Association voted "not to rent the 'Library lot.' to have it vacated so to clean
it up this spring" (p. 115). By this time it had been rented for several years by the Town,
which forwarded the proceeds to the Association's Treasurer. On 12 January, 1918, for
example, $13.00 "rec'd from B.H.Harris for rent of library lot was Paid Tr." (p. 223). On
18 February, 1920, $6.00 was "Rec'd from town for rent of library lot yrs 1918&1919" (p.
226). This amount was then paid to the Treasurer on 22 February, 1920(p. 227). Rent in
the amount of $3.00 was received from the Town again on 17 December, 1920, "rent of
library lot," and yet again on 14 February, 1922 (p. 228). The minutes are difficult to
read here; but $3.00 was evidently "Paid Tr. rent of Le - lot" on 27 January, 1923.(p.
229). On 14 February of what was probably 1923, and again in 1923 and '24, $3.00
was "Rec'd from Earl Burrill rent of library lot" (pp. 228, 229, 230).
At the annual meeting in 1929, the matter of the Library lot was "passed over"
and "Left with directors to discuss" (pp. 116-117); but, three years later, at the 1932
annual meeting, a motion was made by Harvey Harris and approved by Bertha Furber
"that the directors put an article in warrant for the next town-meeting to see what the
town will do toward procuring a Library building" (p. 123).
At the annual meeting on 11 March, 1935, the "President appointed comm.
consisting of Fred Nelson, Selden Fitzgerald, F.E. Earl with Directors, to make beginning
on Library building, which was discussed at length" (p. 126). At the next annual
meeting, on 9 March, 1936, however, the committee reported that "not much has been
done in regard to the beginning of a Library building" (p. 128).
In 1937, on 8 March, no action was taken; but a "Lengthy discussion about a
Library building" took place (p. 129). In 1938, at the annual meeting in the Town Hall,
"A vote was taken in regard to a Library building. 12 votes for new building, 14 votes
for Nason school building …. President requested Directors and selectmen of the town to
call a special town meeting if necessary" (p. 130).
The Nason schoolhouse was on the west side of the Battle Ridge Road, just north
of the brook that flows under the Battle Ridge Road south of the Hoxie Road. It is
marked there as "SH" on the map of Canaan, believed to have been printed in 1880, and
reproduced in Figure 3.
Nothing was done to acquire the Nason schoolhouse in 1938; so, at the annual
meeting in 1939, Harold Bean and Arland Smith were appointed to "act with Directors, to
see about a building for a Library, and request a special town-meeting, if necessary" (p.
131). It seems that little progress was made, however, because, at the next annual
meeting, on 11 March, 1940, Harold Bean announced that $25 to $35 was available "to
enlarge Library room in Grange Hall, and put up book shelves. So voted" (p. 132).
At the 1941 annual meeting, Esther Bean, the Librarian, reported that the Library
room in the Grange Hall had been enlarged and more shelves had been added; and there
was some discussion about "using the Library lot for parking cars" (p. 133). Horace
Bean, the First Selectman, was said to favor the "Library Ass'n and Town Improvement
Ass'n working together, and using Town Improvement money for improving Library
lot." (Town Improvement funds had become available from the Hubbard fund, which
also provided funds for new books for the Library.)
A special meeting of the Association was called on 17 January, 1948. At that
meeting it was voted to accept the Nason schoolhouse for a Library building and to
contact officials of the Town Improvement Association "to find out if funds could be
obtained for moving the school-house" to the Library lot (p. 138). Four years later, at
an annual meeting on 14 March, 1949, "a large majority of those present voted in favor
of moving the Nason school-house onto the Library lot, and using it for a Library" (p.
140); and, a special meeting was called on 6 December, 1949, "for the purpose of having
the money that was solicited from the town people turned over to the Treasurer of Library
Association for purpose of paying for repairs on the building to be used for Library also
the money from the rummage sale to be given to the Library association" (p. 141).
At the annual meeting on 12 March, 1951, Elsie Salsbury, the Librarian, closed
her annual report by saying "The year has been a pleasant one and we are looking
forward to the day we can move into our new Library" (p. 144).
At the next annual meeting, on 10 March, 1952, Elsie Salsbury reported that
… in the spring work was begun on our new Library, and was
completed so we were all moved and the old Library all cleaned
the last of August and the new Library was opened September 12, 1951.
On behalf of the Directors and other Officers of the Library
association, we wish to thank all who donated money to repair
the Library building, especially do we thank Vernon Gleason
for the economical way in which he used the money raised by
the Town for remodeling. Also wish to thank George Nelson
for the sign he made and donated. Edith Downes heirs for
the furnishings Lee Jewell the door he furnished for the store
room Wentworth's and Holt's stores for supplies the[y]
donated and the discount on material used (p. 146).
What Elsie Salsbury described as a "store room" was probably the room later used for the
chemical toilet acquired in 1973 (p. 202).
The last recorded meeting of the Prescott Free Public Library Association was
held in the Library building on 18 March, 1953. "The motion was made for President to
see Lawyer Bulten about having [the name of the Library] changed" to Canaan Public
Library. "It was left with President Carl Wentworth to see about doing the general
repairs of the Library such as fixing the door and crack in the floor" (p. 148).
The first annual meeting of the Canaan Public Library was held in 1955 at
the Library. It was voted at that meeting "to change the name of the Library from
Prescott Free Public to Canaan Public Library" (p. 153).
At a special meeting of the Canaan Public Library held at the Library on 18 April,
1956, "it was moved and approved to construct a new walk, approximately four feet wide
from the porch to the sidewalk, also to have a stone for the step" (p. 159).
On 13 March, 1957, the treasurer, Elsie Salsbury, reported that $5.00 had been
expended for a stone step, purchased from "Rosa Chase" (p. 161). In a separate report
given on this occasion Elsie Salsbury, who was also serving as Librarian, said that "Last
summer a nice stone step was placed in front of the porch and this added much to the
appearance of our library" (p. 162).
At the annual meeting on 5 March, 1958, it was moved and approved to use the
$50.00 given by Mrs. Annie Horne "in memory of her daughter, Miss Beth Horne" for
"building a fence in front of the library, the exact location and type of fence to be
determined by the trustees" (p. 163). At this same meeting Elsie Salsbury, the Librarian,
reported that "We need another magazine table and another rack for Books and Vernon
Gleason has promised to make them for us this summer" (p. 165).
At the 1959 annual meeting on 11 March, "Ola Maxfield [a former president]
suggested we give some thought in enlarging the library to make room for more books as
our space is now very limited" (p. 166). At this meeting the Treasurer, Elsie Salsbury,
reported an expenditure of $14.00 to F.S.Gilblair to "tar walk" (p. 167); and the
Librarian, Elsie Salsbury, reported the recent purchase of a "table for magazines which
will be much appreciated" (p. 168).
At the 1960 annual meeting, on 9 March, the Secretary, Xaverine Glidden, reported that "it was voted that the trustees tend to seeding the lawn and having a fence erected. It was also voted for the trustees to have a fan installed that would help circulate the air in the library" (p. 169). At the annual meeting on 7 March, 1965, the librarian, Bernice Dickey, reported that "the floor has been re-finished this past year, with much favorable comment on it' (p. 185). Xaverine Glidden's Treasurer's Report mentioned that $1.30 was paid to Don Sanders for his work on the floor (p. 187). At the 1967 annual meeting, on 13 March, Xaverine Glidden reported that $80 had been paid to Bernard Fitzgerald for painting and another $15 was expended for "Painting Library Sign" (p. 191). At the 1969 annual meeting, held on 12 March, the Secretary, Rita Smith, reported that "One storm window [was] put on this winter and also heavy plastic on one, Library banked" (p. 192).
A special meeting was called on 10 July, 1973, "for purpose of formulating
budget and presenting list of improvements to come from Revenue Sharing Funds,
Officers and trustees present came up with [the] following: "Capital Improvements
9 comb windows and 1 door
|Insulation for attic space||$53|