At the north end of Randolph, just as you cross over the White River, you might spot two of the village’s architectural gems. The first is the Chandler Music Hall. But right beside it is an impressive domed red brick building, the Kimball Public Library.
The library was established in 1896 and was known then as the Randolph Public Library. It opened over Morton’s Drug Store in the old DuBois and Gay building block with 134 books that had been sent by the State of Vermont and was managed by librarian Maud Blanchard.
By 1898 the library had received an additional 1,500 books as well as cash donations from the community and the Ladies’ Library Association helping to supplement the purchase of even more books and supplies.
And the same man who created the future Montague Golf Club, also played a major role in the formation of the library.
In 1901, Colonel Robert Kimball, a native of Randolph who’d become a successful New York City financier, offered the town $10,000 to construct a new library. The town didn’t hesitate and purchased the property, a tenement and barn located at 67 North Main Street. A choice Kimball wholeheartedly agreed with as it had been his childhood home.
Construction began in 1902, with Kimball working closely with both the architects and contractors until the building was completed and dedicated in February of 1903.
The finished product is an architectural masterpiece, inside and out.
Built in the Renaissance Revival style, the library stands three-stories high and is topped with a crowned metal dome. A granite staircase leads patrons through a high, arched brick entry to a pair of oversized half-glass wooden doors while above them, a masterful stained glass transom window bathes the entry with soft natural light.
Inside visitors enter into the lobby and are immediately wrapped in the warmth of stained paneled wainscoting, fluted columns topped with Corinthian capitals, lush crown molding, and marble accents. And a large portrait of Colonel Kimball hangs proudly over an oversized brickwork fireplace that dominates a cozy sitting area.
While the architecture is worth stopping in for, it’s the library’s contents that are the big draw. Throughout the building rich wooden shelves burst with books, offering education and entertainment for adults, young adults, and children.
In addition to print books, Kimball offers patrons e-books and audiobooks. And if they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask them about it – they might be able to get it through an interlibrary loan.
Kimball also has a collection of local history books and genealogies, as well as microfilm of Randolph’s weekly newspaper, The Herald of Randolph, going as far back as 1888.
Outside of books, the library also has free wifi and offers copying, printing, scanning, and fax services for a small fee.
Need a space to hold a meeting or community event? In addition to their own slate of programs, part of the library’s mission is to offer space for community groups to meet and hold programs. Past and ongoing events hosted by the library itself have included ukulele jam sessions, homeschooling groups, bridge clubs, and Magic: The Gathering games, and more.
If you’re interested in exploring Vermont museums, the library has a museum pass program in which you can borrow up to two passes to a number of Vermont museums and parks including the Billings Farm and Museum, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), and the Vermont History Museum to name a few.
So if you have a deep love of stories (or appreciate fine architecture), stop into the Kimball Public Library to discover the adventures held within the pages of their many books.
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