Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library

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Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library

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National Register of Historic Places

The Wilton Public And Gregg Free Library in the National Register of Historic Places

The following is the copy of a document which has existed in the Library's Historical Cabinet since 1983.  
The Wilton Public And Gregg Free Library is proud of its history and would like to share this notable document with our patrons:

Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library
7 Forest Road
Wilton, New Hampshire 03086

Municipality: Wilton, New Hampshire
Site Type: Public library
Location of Legal Description: Hillsborough
County Registry of Deeds, 19 Temple Street, Nashua, New Hampshire (Volume 656, Pg.61)
Owner of property: Town of Wilton, New Hampshire

The Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library in Wilton, New Hampshire was constructed from July, 1905 until October, 1907.

Designed by the Boston architectural firm of McLean & Wright, the building is a superb example of the "Neo-Classic” style prevalent among monumental architecture between 1900 to 1920.

The building is symmetrical in plan and elevation, basically rectangular (45' x 65') in configuration with a front projecting pedimented entrance portico. Even though the site pitches to the south rather steeply, a float terrace was created upon which to place the building.

The structure is basically 2 ½ stories in height, comprised of a basement, main level and second level. One-half of the basement level is above grade, visually defined by a granite base of regular bond. The two upper levels are built of brick in a flemish bond pattern. The front entrance portico is flanked by four monolithic limestone Corinthian columns, one pair at each side of the arched limestone entrance. Applied rectangular limestone columns frame all corners of the structure. The entire building is capped with a limestone entablature of rich detail. The roof cornice is entirely of copper, including the gabled pediment above the main entrance portico.

The front double hung windows have an arched top sash with a pointed arch mullion pattern, and the windows are surrounded by a limestone frieze, including a very ornate balustered limestone relief below each sash. The second level spaces are fenestrated with rectangular sash with an arched and oval mullion pattern. Curved bays on the east and west facades add visual interest, both inside and outside the building. Two brick chimneys flank the Northeast and Northwest corners of the roof. The slate hip roof is crowned with a copper clad skylight monitor which furnishes light to the leaded glass window of the dome in the circular Rotunda room.

A grand double staircase approached by semi-circular walks under huge maple trees provides the visitor with a fitting entrance to this classic building.

The main level floor is symmetrically divided into seven rooms: the Entrance Vestibule, Rotunda (delivery room), Adult Reading Room, Children's Reading Room, Stack Room, Reference Room, and Librarian's Room/Stair Hall.

The Entrance Vestibule (22' x 10 ½') features an ornamental stair in quarter oak and a tile mosaic floor.

The Rotunda (22' x 22') is richly paneled in mahogany, including eight Corinthian columns in wood veneer. The floor is a circular pattern of tile mosaic, and the ornately plastered domed ceiling is capped with a stained glass ocular window, which receives its light from the roof monitor. The column capitals and plaster ceiling friezes are decorated in gold gilt.

The Adult Reading Room (24' x 22') is also paneled with mahogany raised paneled wainscotting. The mahogany mantel surrounds handmade ceramic tiles, depicting a pastoral scene, on the brick fireplace front. The upper plaster frieze is stenciled. Both wall and ceiling stencils were painted over with oil base paint in 1975.

The Children's Reading Room (24' x 22') is paneled in curly birch including wainscotting, doors, mantel and built-in bookcases. The fireplace front is of handmade ceramic tile depicting an open cart scene. The plaster frieze is hand stenciled and the entire ceiling is bordered in a hand stenciled pattern. The most prominent feature of this marvelous room is the intricate wall stenciling, divided into thirteen wall panels on a dark red background wall color, each panel containing an oil painting of African animal scenes.

The small Reference Room (16' x 11') is entirely paneled and shelved in curly white oak.

The large Stack Room (28' x 24½') is paneled and shelved in cypress.

The Librarian's Room (10' x 91/2') is paneled in sycamore.

The lower level (basement) is comprised of meeting rooms, a stack room and a mechanical room for the heating plant. The upper level (second floor) contains a large meeting room and historic rooms.
The renovations to this structure since its construction have been relatively minor and fortunately have not disturbed the elegant façade. Linoleum sheet flooring was laid over all hardwood floors on the main level in 1931. The building was lighted and wired for electricity in the 1920's. The small wood frame "back porch” was added in 1963.

Because of the building's architectural significance as a neo-classic design, and its excellent condition both interior and exterior, we consider the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library worthy of nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Prepared by:
Frank L. Brookshire, Architect
Wilton, New Hampshire

Statement of Significance
At a Special Town Meeting, held December 11, 1907, the townspeople of Wilton accepted the gift of the Hon. David A. Gregg (1840-1928) of the land and building known as the Gregg Free Library.

The entire cost (estimated to be over $100,000) of the land and building was sponsored by the Hon. David A. Gregg of Nashua, New Hampshire, and a summer resident of Wilton. The library was officially dedicated September 22, 1908, with elaborate and festive ceremonies. According to several newspaper accounts, the Gregg donation was considered "one of the finest library buildings in the state”.

The building was erected under the personal supervision of Henry L. Emerson, a Wilton carpenter and builder, designed by the Boston architectural firm of McLean & Wright. The foundation, cut stonework and granite, was provided by Gen. C.W. Stevens of Nashua, N.H.; the brickwork and setting of the limestone trimmings were furnished by Johnson & Keith of Milford, N.H.; the limestone columns and all trimmings by Joseph F. Carew of Boston, Massachusetts. The copper cornice and slate roof were furnished and laid by Bailey & Merryman of Concord, NH.; the walks, grading and seeding of lawn by Osgood Construction of Nashua, NH; the plastering done by Garney Bros. of West Newton, Mass. The "fancy floor” in the delivery room was laid by Paul Vogt, of Everett, Mass., the cornice work and tiling by Geo. W. Crowly, Boston, the heating and plumbing by F. O. Ray, Nashua, NH, and the interior decorating by Mortenan & Holdenan of Boston, Mass.

All the "inside work” came from the shops of Gregg & Sons of Nashua, N.H. (David A. Gregg, owner and operator) and the "woodworking in charge of Superintendent H. L. Emerson."

According to Gregg's wishes, the library building and land is owned by the Town of Wilton, but controlled and managed by a Board of Trustees. The original Board consisted of :
Hon. Charles H. Burns, President
George G. Blanchard, Secretary
David E. Proctor
Hon. George E. Bales
George Whiting, Treasurer

In a "Deed of Gift”, Gregg asks that the building be used only as a public library and for the preservation of historical articles and other purposes of the library. He also requested the Town to maintain an insurance policy in the amount of $25,000. In 1912, the Hon. David A. Gregg, showing his continued interest in Wilton and the library, gave to the town an endowment of $25,000.00 to be maintained and managed by the Board of Trustees. Through the years may other generous endowment funds and gifts have been donated to the library with supplemental appropriations by the Town of Wilton.

The Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library, historically, has more than met the community's needs as a resource center of learning and education, while standing as a gracious monument to the man who generously gave it to the Town of Wilton. The building, since 1908 has been virtually unaltered due to the meticulous care of the Trustees and townspeople and placing the building on the National Register of Historic Places will insure future generations of the remembrance of a generous man who built an extraordinarily beautiful building with a challenge to the future to keep is as such.

"Before I built the library building, I had a little money that I wanted to invest, and having had a varied experience in making investments, I was anxious to place this money where it would not be lost; where the principal would be safe and the interest good and sure. In casting about in my mind for an opportunity of this kind, it occurred to me that a library building for the town of Wilton would be as safe a place as I needed to look for; that the principal would be safe and the interest good to all those who cared to accept it.”

Hon. David A. Gregg
Excerpt from Library Dedication Speech
September 22, 1908
Prepared by :
Gail A. Proctor
Wilton, New Hampshire