Libraries in Pittsford
The first library was organized in 1803 and evidently was dissolved in 1809. It had 44 subscribers who paid $1.00 for one share of stock in the company called "The Northfield Library Company". Ezra Patterson was the first librarian and treasurer and the books were kept in his home on Mendon Center Road. This spot was marked by an historic marker and the land is now occupied by the Mendon Center Elementary School. The marker has been removed during construction (2004 & 2005) and is resting in the Town Garage. It will be re-erected when construction is finished. (From Audrey Johnson, Town Historian)
From 1809 to 1834 there is no record of any library activity. In 1834, the Monroe County Clerk's Office recorded the incorporation of the Pittsford Social Library. The early records of this association are obscure.
The next evidence of a library is an account book entitled "School District Number 6 Book" December 1852. Thomas Gillam was the librarian and accounts show that 120 people borrowed books.
The Pittsford Community Library was formed in 1920. Mrs. Joseph Malone and Miss Una Hutchinson borrowed 50 books from the Library Extension Division of New York. They were housed in the grocery store of George Thomas on the southwest corner of Main Street and Monroe Avenue. So many people borrowed books that it became necessary to move to rooms above Mr. Crump's store (formerly the village Pharmacy).
(In the Democrat & Chronicle on May 3, 1922 there is an announcement of the opening of a library in Pittsford. Although Pittsford had the first library in the county starting back in the 19th century, this library had, apparently, lapsed years before, and there had been no such service in the intervening decades. The library was being sponsored by the Women's Auxiliary of the Rayson-Miller Post and the committee was made up of Mrs. Joseph Malone who was a trained librarian, Miss Una Hutchinson and Mrs. Cortland Newcomb. They had accepted the offer of the State to receive 125 books, and they planned to augment these with a canvass of the town. The library was located in the rear of the Thomas Dry Goods store. Library hours were on Wednesday afternoon and books would also be given out on Saturday evenings.)
By 1924 the library had grown so much that it needed to move again to what is now known as the "Little House" which at that time was on the south side of Monroe Ave near Town Hall. It remained there for 14 years. It was in that year that the Pittsford Community Library became chartered under the Regents of the State of New York, and began receiving state aid for the purchase of books.
In 1937, Mrs. Charles Hastings Wiltsie Field donated the building at 21 North Main Street, as a memorial to her father, Charles, to the Village of Pittsford for use as the public library where it remained until 1973 when it was again moved to the location at 18 State Street. The former location was remodeled and turned into the Village Hall where all of the village municipal documents are kept and village meetings are held. The terms of Mrs. Field's generous donation stated that if it was no longer used as a public building, the ownership would revert to her family.
The room with the fireplace, which is used as the meeting room for Village meetings, is a recreation of Mr. Charles Wiltsie's own library in his lovely home in Rochester. The paneling, the stained glass windows, and the portrait of Mr. Wiltsie were all part of the renovation and redecoration of that building in 1937.
Mr. Wiltsie was born in the home at 21 North Main Street in Pittsford in 1859. He attended the village school in Pittsford until the age of fourteen, when he prepared for the college at the Brockport State Normal School. He then attended the University of Rochester and was graduated, second in his class in 1880. He was a prominent citizen of Rochester, involved in numerous causes and activities, one of which was the organization of the Rochester Public Library in 1911. He was largely responsible for the coalition of the Reynolds Library, The Rundel Memorial Fund and the Rochester Public Library, which resulted in the new Rochester Central Library on South Avenue, (recently renovated).
Pittsford may well be very proud of its enterprise of a community library. In 1803 there were 77 volumes (many of which were focused on the French Revolution), in 1920 there were 50 volumes, in 1937 there were 6,500 volumes, and in 2000 there were over 100,000 volumes. The small Northfield Library Company has come a long, long way.
The Opening of the library had been greeted with such support, that the Legion Auxiliary was immediately planning a more permanent arrangement.
The canvass of the town for books was about to begin and was headed up by Miss Una Hutchinson, Mrs. George Thomas, and Mrs. Fred Zornow. In addition, the American Legion was giving the library the use of their quarters in the Crump Building where there would be room for the books and a reading area as well.
(From D&C account of May 10, 1922)