The library inspired The Sentinel reporter to put objectivity on the shelf.
“There it stands as a very dream — wonderful, beautiful,” the journalist wrote, describing the building in Mount Holly Springs named for a millionaire heiress.
“Those who last evening saw for the first time this very gem of art as it was opened to the public … were amazed, gratified and delighted,” the story from early January 1890 read. “[They] came away with no thought of anything that could be done to make this conception of gracious and beautiful thought one jot more complete.”
Amelia Givin wanted to build a place for her hometown and for the workers in the paper mill. Seven months prior, in May 1889, she picked the construction site along the east side of North Baltimore Avenue.
Today, the library shares a distinction with the Mount Tabor AME Zion Church and Cemetery on Cedar Street in the borough. Both buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The listings were made possible by the work of volunteers determined to preserve landmarks important to the history and culture of the small town. Though the church predates the library by about 20 years, it only earned a spot on the register this winter.
In 2000, Paul Tucker, a library board member, donated his time to complete the paperwork that was abandoned in the 1980s. Tucker was regarded as the unofficial historian for the library.
Two qualities emerged that made the building worthy of distinction. The brick and brownstone exterior is a fine example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style named for Henry Hobson Richardson, a prominent U.S. architect.
Inside, Moorish Fretwork oak screens act as partitions separating the main foyer from the circular library room on the left and the reading rooms on the right. Constructed of interlacing spindles, the screens are the creation of Moses Y. Ransom. This woodworking style survives in only a few other buildings in the United States, all private residences. The woodwork at the Givin library is, far and away, the best example of Ransom’s work.
Tour Through Time runs Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, features ideas or tips to email@example.com.
Email Joseph Cress at firstname.lastname@example.org.