The Belden Noble Memorial Library was once known as Greystone Cottage. It was originally built by General Ransom Noble for use as a store and warehouse in conjunction with his tannery and shoe factory in behind the building (“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” 27).
“Constructed of native limestone, its Federal proportions retain their elegance, although a later “Swiss chalet” pair of balconies were added to the facade, and diamond-paned sash installed.” (Living Places)
Long before the Belden Noble Memorial Library was converted into a municipal repository of books, the use it continues through the present day, the handsome stone building adjacent to the Essex-Charlotte ferry dock was part of Ransom Nobles thriving business. Noble established a tannery in the early 19th century beside the stream, now called Library Brook, directly west of the current library.
Between 1801 and 1818 Noble built the H. and B. Noble General Store at the edge of the road initially selling his merchandise and later becoming a general store (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 122). It is this balcony-facaded building perched at the intersection of Library Brook and Essex Road where you can tuck in for cool reading on a hot summer day.
From General Store to Library
During the mid-1800s, Adeline Noble used the tannery store space to house a private library, with privileges extended to family, friends and staff. Eventually a “provisional” charter was granted by the University of the State of New York, and the town accepted the now public Essex Free Library in 1899 (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 80). The Noble family retained the right to select members of the library’s board of trustees, and in 1906 it received “absolute” charter. Adeline Noble left the library to the town in memory of her husband, so it was renamed the Belden Noble Memorial Library (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 122).
Early on, the library served borrowers from such nearby communities as Willsboro, Reber, and Whallonsburg. It also became a favorite meeting place for various organizations and activities. In World War I, it was used for Red Cross and other “war work.” It filled a similar role in World War II.
In 1974, Fermine Baird Baker deeded the library building and the parcel of land upon which it stands to the Town of Essex for one dollar with the stipulation that the structure “shall forever be used as a library” (“Belden Memorial Library History”, The Belden Memorial Library).
In 1998, the library received a grant that allowed the exterior and interior of the library to be restored by ECHO and the library board; photographs of the original designs were studied to make the restoration as historically accurate to the building’s past as possible (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain. 80).
On August 2, 2012, the Belden Noble Memorial Library became automated, permitting library members to search the catalog online, reserve library books online, and access diverse materials made available through the Clinton-Essex-Franklin library system including downloading ebooks (The Belden Memorial Library).
Beldon Noble Memorial Library Information
Summer Hours (begin May 1) Monday 2:00-4:00; Tuesday 2:00-4:00; Wednesday 2:00-4:00; Thursday 12:00-5:00; Friday 12:00-5:00; Saturday 10:00-5:00; Sunday closed
Winter Hours (begin October 1) Monday 1:00-4:00; Tuesday closed; Wednesday closed; Thursday 12:00-5:00; Friday 12:00-5:00; Saturday 10:00-5:00; Sunday closed
Tom Mangano is the Director. Contact him at (518) 963-8079 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Beldon Noble Memorial Library website to learn more.
Additional Resources for the Belden Noble Memorial Library
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate the Belden Noble Memorial Library and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in the historic district.
References for Beldon Noble Memorial Library
“Essex: An Architectural Guide.” Essex Community Heritage Organization, 1986.
“Essex Village Historic District.” Living Places. Ed. Julia Gombach. The Gombach Group, 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://www.livingplaces.com/NY/Essex_County/Essex_Town/Essex_Village_Historic_District.html>.
Hislop, David C., Jr. Essex on Lake Champlain. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2009. Print. Images of America.
“Historic Essex.” Historic Essex. Essex Community Heritage Organization. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://www.essexny.org/>.
“History of the Library.” Beldon Noble Memorial Library. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <http://www.essexlibrary.org/index-6.html>.
McNulty, George F., and Margaret Scheinin. Essex; the Architectural Heritage. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 1971. Print.
Smith, H. P. History of Essex County: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Syracuse, N. Y.: D. Mason &, 1885. Print.