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.