214 Main Street: The Penn Yan Public Library


214 Main St

enn Yan's beautiful library building, a classic example of the Carnegie library model, was built in 1905 on the site of what had been a sawmill, cabinet-making and coffin-sales establishment.

In 1827 Abraham Wagener sold the lot to Elisha G. Hopkins, who with his sons built up quite a business here, and erected at least two houses in addition to the milling buildings on this and the adjacent lot on the north.

The lot was sold to the local school district in 1904 by Elisha's two sons George F. and Edward G. Hopkins, who had carried on the business after their father's death. A few years earlier they had razed their father's house next door and built the one that now stands at #210, and perhaps moved the house that stood on this lot about where the library stands now. This house was occupied by several families before it too was razed in the 1950s. A number of older photographs show part of this house standing close behind the library building.

The library was one of hundreds funded by Andrew Carnegie. The Classic-Revival columned and stepped facade will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen one of these in some other small town. As with all the Carnegie grants, the local municipality had to commit operating funds in perpetuity, and this has certainly been carried out in Penn Yan's case. The collection is now of course vastly larger and more varied than it was in 1905, and a good-sized addition was carried out with great attention to preserving the historic building in front. As this is being written plans are in hand for another addition, and it is to be hoped that it is as sensitive as the first one was.



Above right: 214 Main Street, the Penn Yan Public Library. In the view is the east side of the historic Carnegie library portion of the building, built in 1905 in a simple, pure Classical Revival style.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Elisha G. Hopkins

Related sites:

     210 Main Street

Related history:

     The County Seat
     Turn of another Century