FREE LIBRARY

Program
NYS Historic
Subject
Arts & Culture
Location
9 Church St, Port Henry, NY 12974, USA
Lat/Long
44.047711, -73.46102
Grant Recipient
Town of Moriah Historical Society
Historic Marker

FREE LIBRARY

Inscription

FREE LIBRARY
BUILT AND DONATED 1887 BY
GEORGE R. SHERMAN FOR FREE
USE OF LOCAL RESIDENTS.
DAMAGED BY FIRE 1907
AND REBUILT 1908.
WILLIAM G. POMEROY FOUNDATION 2020

The Sherman Free Library was constructed in 1887 by local banker, businessman and philanthropist George R. Sherman for the free use of the community. In 1907 a fire ripped through the library and resulted in thousands of dollars of damage. It was rebuilt in 1908.

In 1887 the Sherman Free Library was constructed in the hamlet of Port Henry, near the Adirondack Mountains. Named for local banker, businessman, and philanthropist George Riley Sherman, the Sherman Free Library was intended to benefit the community. In Sherman’s Obituary published in an November 14, 1895 edition of The Essex County Republican, his generosity regarding the donation of the library was described in great detail:

His chief gift outside his benefactions to the Sherman Academy was the Sherman Free Library in Port Henry, consisting of a handsome building, and equipped at first with about 3,000 books. This was the culmination of the plan he had long contemplated for the benefit of his fellow-citizens. He not only built this library, but so endowed it as to make it always perfectly self-supporting.

The Sherman Free Library was enjoyed for several years and continued to grow. Unfortunately tragedy stuck in 1907, when a devastating fire ripped through the building. The December 10, 1907 edition of The Post Star details the damage that was done to the library:

The Sherman Free Library at Port Henry was damaged to the extent if $40,000 by a fire which broke out about 4 o’clock on Saturday Afternoon…The flames continued to spread to neighboring buildings. The new village hall and the First National bank buildings also took fire but were saved. Case and Son were constructing an addition to the library building and this was destroyed.

While the library was severely damaged, it was rebuilt and reopened the following year. As of 2020, the Sherman Free Library still stands as a legacy of George R Sherman’s devotion to the community of Port Henry, New York.