Hello, everyone! This is Michael from the Will Library. Being that it is National Library Week, I have been thinking a lot about Yonkers Public Library’s history. Once upon a time, the Yonkers Public Library had a Carnegie library. I have looked at many photographs of it and I can’t get over how elegant it looked. It was beautifully designed with a marble interior. There were three murals hanging in the library that impressed people that saw it. They were titled “The Age of Chivalry,” “The Age of Discovery,” and “The Age of Invention.” “The Age of Invention” mural is currently hanging in the reading room of the Will Library.
In 1901, Andrew Carnegie donated $50,000 to Yonkers for the construction of a library. The site selected to build it was on the corner between South Broadway and Nepperhan Avenue. Construction began on June 20, 1903. The Carnegie Library opened to the public on July 9, 1904. Ervin Saunders, the owner of Saunders & Sons, bequeathed $50,000 to the Yonkers Public Library before his death in 1909.
There were many engaging and interesting programs that were held at the Carnegie Library. These included doll story times, film discussions, Library Night celebrations, writing groups, and a Newbery Award children’s program. Eugene, a librarian at the Riverfront Library, has a fond memory of Madeline L’Engle discussing her book A Wrinkle in Time at the library.
Besides attending programs, people spent hours reading books in the children’s section and other parts of the library. Patricia Vaccarino, an author who grew up in Yonkers, recalled reading books at the Carnegie Library for extended periods of time in the interview that I had with her:
Unfortunately, to the dismay of many, the Carnegie Library was demolished in 1982 to expand Nepperhan Avenue. People will forever have fond memories of being in this library. From photographs that I have seen and stories that I heard, I can only imagine what it would have been like to see its interior. It looked and sounds like it was a magical place!
To see more photographs of the Yonkers Carnegie Library, visit the Yonkers Public Library digital archive.
The Yonkers Public Library has created a web page to celebrate National Library Week. Please visit this website to learn more about libraries and read about upcoming events occurring at YPL.