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- The History of Crestwood Library
On Sunday, December 20, 1925, ground was broken for the construction of a library building in the Crestwood section of Yonkers.
Mayor Ulrich Wiesendanger, as reported in the Yonkers Statesman, “took up the small gilded spade that C. A. Wales, the contractor, had provided, and with his right foot pressed it into the ground. He lifted high the spade full of dirt and the crowd applauded enthusiastically.”
The event marked the successful culmination of an effort that had started almost five years earlier, in February 1921.
The Woman’s Club of Crestwood had been founded by Mrs. Horace G. Healey in January 1921. Almost immediately, the club set itself the goal of providing the Crestwood section of the city with a free community library.
On February 8, 1921, Mrs. Myron J. Willson was appointed the chairwoman of the club’s library committee.
At the initiative of the Woman’s Club, the Crestwood Library Association was incorporated in September 1921, and Mrs. Willson’s library committee was dissolved — and promptly reconstituted as the Board of Trustees of the nascent Crestwood free library. Appointed chairwoman of the board, Mrs. Willson served in that capacity for five years, until Crestwood’s community-operated library was finally incorporated into the Yonkers Public Library system.
From neighborhood residents the Crestwood Library Association raised over the course of the early 1920s the sum of $6,000 for the construction of a library building.
In the years before the building materialized, and with a provisional five-year charter from the State of New York, the Association operated a free public library for Crestwood in, successively, Public School 15 and, after that space was needed for a classroom, in the Asbury Methodist Church. 800 volumes are reported to have circulated in the month of February 1926 alone.
Taking advantage of a lien on some property owned by a Mamaroneck real estate company, and on which taxes hadn’t been paid for years, in May 1924 the Library Association purchased for $1,200 three lots at the intersection of Chittenden Avenue and Thompson Street.
The property was then deeded to the City of Yonkers and the remaining monies in the Library Association’s fund were earmarked to offset some of the cost of the construction of a library building on the Thompson Street site.
The needed funding from the City of Yonkers was appropriated by the City’s Board of Estimate in November 1925. It provided $20,000 for the project.
Alderman Joshua M. Fiero, the Eleventh Ward’s representative on the Yonkers Common Council, championed the cause of the Crestwood Library from the start. Architect O.J. Gette, a Yonkers resident, drew up the plans for the building, assuring the Common Council that he did so gratis.
In December 1925, the contract for the construction and the electrical wiring of the library building was awarded to the firm of Charles A. Wales.
Miss Helen Thompson was hired to be the Crestwood Library’s first librarian. The library’s second librarian, appointed in 1929 and serving until 1948, was Mrs. Willson.
The Crestwood Library was dedicated on Saturday, October 16, 1926.
“After five years’ endeavor,” the Yonkers Statesman reported, “the Crestwood Public Library was opened Saturday afternoon with ceremonies befitting the earnest work that had been bestowed on its establishment. Mayor Walsh and other city officials attended. Several hundred persons saw the handsome new Institution formally turned over to the municipality by the women who for half a decade had toiled to finance it.”
From the North:
• Take Sprain Brook Pkwy S toward New York City.
• Take the JACKSON AVE exit and turn left.
• Turn slight right onto Central Park Ave / NY-100.
• Turn left onto Crisfield St.
• Turn slight right onto Scarsdale Rd.
• Turn left onto Pennsylvania Ave.
• Turn left onto Thompson St.
• Library is on the left
From the East:
• Bronx River Parkway
• Take EXIT 8, toward Crestwood Station.
• Turn right onto Thompson St.
• Library is on the right.
From the South:
• Take the Bronx River Pkwy N to White Plains
• Continue onto Sprain Brook Pkwy N
• Take the exit toward Bronx Pkwy/White Plains.
• Continue onto Bronx River Pkwy & take EXIT 8toward Crestwood.
• Turn left onto Bronx Pkwy, which becomesThompson St.
• Library is on the right.
Metro-North Harlem Line to Crestwood stop. Head northwest to Thompson St. Library will be on the right.