While library service in Ogdensburg dates back to at least 1828, the library moved into its present location, a Victorian mansion, in 1895. A remodel in 1921-1922, intended to transform the exterior, resulted in a fire during the construction process that destroyed much of the interior. Fortunately, most of the collection had already been removed, and what remained was stored in a fireproof vault. While some were damaged by water, the cost to the library – and to history – could have been much greater. The items in the vault were part of the Remington Indian Collection, donated by Frederic Remington’s widow Eva, currently housed in the museum across Washington Street from the library and the impetus behind the building’s remodel.
Through the years, the library has continued to grow and adapt itself to the needs of the public, adding the Isabella D. Dodge children’s room in 1979, (improved in 1984 and again in 2010,) an elevator in 1983, public computers in 1987, and a teen room in 2009.
All three levels of the library contain artwork by local or locally-connected artists. Featured are: Edmund J. Sawyer, John C. Hayes, Louise Chandler, Jack Beals, and John Morrow. The murals on the wall of the children’s room were created by Jo-Ellen Murray and Mary LaMere.
Aside from local history, the library contains other featured collections. A 1983 bequest by Harry Dundas Mahoney provides resources for the purchase of books pertaining to civil, mechanical, electrical, and construction engineering. A donation of books owned by General Newton Martin Curtis led to a continued emphasis on civil war material.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the area between the library and River Road has been a green space – Library Park – visible through large bay windows and open to the public. The park features a soldiers’ monument and the newly dedicated Markert Memorial Garden, as well as seating and a large gazebo – a frequent site for summer weddings and concerts. Come enjoy the view from your library!
In 1996, Persis Yates Boyesen completed a centennial history of the library (Nulla Vestigia Retrorsum [No Steps Backwards],) which is available for purchase in the foyer. This page (and the library as a whole) owes a large debt to her work.