The building of the new Edward Chipman Public Library was completed and occupied in 1912. The books had been moved in the last of December. The splendid building was designed by Charles D. Henry a leading architect of Kankakee, Illinois and was erected by E.A. Barsalou, contractor of Momence, Illinois. The work was under the supervision of Mr E. G. Wicks, which alone insured a complete job.
The building is beautiful red brick and trimmed with Bedford Stone. It made a pretty picture, having been made possible with the generosity of Mr. Edward Chipman.
It was in 1906-07 that the question of a public library was agitated, and the movement started. There was one meeting when Prof. R.E. Selby (Superintendent of Momence Public Schools), Dr. Nickerson, Mrs. Wikstrom, Rev. Eglin, Charles Hack, and a few others were present, but all were enthusiastic, and the movement was started. The rooms in the Momence State Savings Bank were secured and Miss Lucy Atherton was elected Librarian. She served faithfully and well until about 1910 when she retired on account of her health. Since that time Mrs. Bertha Durham was the librarian, and was very accomodating and faithful.
Later, on account of a movement led by D.C. Riker and others, the people voted a tax to sustain the Library, and the City Council under Mayor Chatfield passed the necessary ordinance, and the tax was laid.
When Mr. Edward Chipman died, he left a provision in his will that the sum of $10,000 should be given for a public library. The present building was the result of his thoughtfulness. It was to be a blessing to the present and future generations and an honor to the man who was always a power in the community.
The lot on which the building now stands was given by a number of the loyal citizens of the city, and they were also entitled to great credit. The lot had been owned by the Atherton-Cooke family, and improvements must have cost about $2,500.
The first library meeting was held at The Baptist Church on November 15, 1907, and the following board was appointed: Rev. Vreeland was chosen Chairman, and Messrs. R.E. Selby, Charles Hack, W.L. Clapsadle, Mrs. Ed Sweet, and Dr. Nickerson, Miss Zoa Coyle was appointed the first Librarian. In September 1908, a new board was then elected as follows: Rev. Eglin, D.C. Riker, Clyde Tabler, Dr. A.S. Buritt, Mrs. D.E. Styles, and Dr. A.L. Nickerson. Miss Lucy Atherton was then selected Librarian.
The board in 1912 was as follows: E.G. Wicks, U. Kirby, John L. Cleary, Father Legrie, S.E. Roush, E.P. Harney, Fred Sanstrom, and Dr. Nickerson.
The Chipman Library in the 100 block of North Locust Street has seen feast and famine, wars and depression, and is still a mainstay of near downtown Momence. There have been many boards, librarians, a building addition and new equipment and it stands presently ready to serve all the citizens of Momence. Have you made yourself available of the services and benefits of the library?
Information for this article was obtained from a paper publication date December 20, 1912.
Article author, Frank B. Johnson, for publication in the Momence Progress Reporter January 1, 2003 pg.5