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The Howland Cultural Center Building

A National Historic Treasure

Howland Cultural Center

Civil War General and shipping magnate Joseph Howland was the chief benefactor of the former Howland Library. He joined with ten other leaders of what was then the village of Matteawan and formed the library in 1872. He also commissioned his brother-in-law, Richard Morris Hunt, to design the new library. Hunt's contribution to our community was one of his earliest works.

Norwegian in architectural style, the building is 65'x 40' and has a six-gabled roof covered with Delaware slate. The outside walls are red and black Croton brick interlaid with light Jersey brick. The foundation is of blue stone and Breakneck granite. The ceiling, from floor to dome, measures 33'9" and is supported by hand-wrought Georgia pine columns. The floors are in the three thicknesses, composed of English cane felt laid on hemlock boards to prevent dampness or sound. The floor's top is laid in strips of selected Georgia pine. The original collection of close to 2,200 volumes was open only to subscribers. No smoking, spitting or "indecorous conduct" were allowed according to the library’s first regulations. The fine for overdue books was set at 20 cents a day.

Generations of Beaconites fondly recall filing through these doors to reach the knowledge contained within. By the mid 1970s, it was clear the library had outgrown the building and after constructing new facilities moved in 1976.

This priceless building with its Norwegian architectural was added to the National Historical Register in 1976. The Howland Cultural Center a non-profit cultural organization along with it's membership maintains the facility and continues to use this rare architectural gem as a showcase for a myriad of community functions as well as regional, national and international cultural events drawing audiences from across the Hudson Valley and beyond.

To read more about the history of Beacon, Mt. Beacon, the building's benifacor Joseph Howland, or Richard Morris Hunt

click on the links below:

History of Beacon

Mt. Beacon
General Joseph Howland
Richard Morris Hunt
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Copyright © The Howland Cultural Center 2007 - 2014