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Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library, 108 N Union


The Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library, located at 108 North Union Street in Stafford, Kansas, is a one-story brick building Librarymeasuring 30 x 40 feet, with a partially finished, full basement (Plate 1).
  The red brick, tinged with purple exterior of the library, is laid in running bond with flush mortar joints. According to the Stafford Courier the brick is "Pittsburgh vitrified paving brick. “ The front elevation of the library faces west onto Union Street, the first brick street in Stafford, connecting the Santa Fe Depot at its northern terminus to the Missouri Pacific depot at its southern terminus and one block west of Main Street, the town's major commercial thoroughfare. Construction of the library, which was built to be fireproof, began with excavation work in December 1905. The brickwork for the library was laid by Stafford resident Lew Dellinger (b. 1858), and the library was completed at the end of 1906 for an estimated cost of $5,000.00. 

 

          The three-bay west, front elevation sits upon a limestone watercourse surmounted by a series of four projecting brick courses alternating with four single recessed brick courses repeated on all four elevations. Above is a limestone string course wrapping around the library and serving as the sill for the library's fenestration. The first floor corners have brick quoins that terminate at the entablature of the Corinthian cornice. Stairs, flanked by brick pedestals sitting on a limestone base and capped with limestone slabs, lead to the library's entrance (Plate 2). The entrance door, which is original to the building, opens to a shallow vestibule leading to an inner entrance door. Both are glass doors flanked by beveled leaded-glass lancet windows decorated with stylized flowers on long stems. The transom window above the outer entrance has a stained-glass window with the word "Memorial“ at its center as well as beveled leaded-glass panes above the lancet windows decorated with stylized flowers. By contrast, the transom window above the inner door has beveled lead glass decorated with stylized flowers (Plate 3).

 

          Between the entrance and the elevation's only window is a brick surface with a concrete tablet bearing the inscription: "Erected in Memory of Nora E. Larabee by Her Father and Mother." The building history of the Larabee Memorial Library is a history of migrating windows. The original six-part window on the front elevation consisted of a one-over-one sash window in the center flanked by beveled, leaded-glass lancet windows decorated with abstract flowers on long stems. Above the lancet windows were small panes of beveled, leaded-glass decorated with abstract flowers. The stained-glass transom window above the central window bore the word "Library“ and complemented the word "Memorial“ in the transom window above the entrance door. Today, the window occupying the space is the Nora E. Larabee Memorial Window with Nora's portrait at its center, donated by Nora's brothers Frank Sheridan Larabee (1864-1921) and Frederick Delos Larabee (1868-1920) in their sister's memory (Plate 4). 

 

          Originally, the Larabee Memorial Window was situated in the northeast corner of the east, rear elevation of the library, where it could be seen through the outer and inner glass entrance doors. We do not know when or why the window was removed from the rear elevation to its present location on the library's front elevation. A 1913 postcard view shows the Larabee Memorial Window still in its original location on the rear elevation. At some point before 1963, when the Richardson wing was added to the rear elevation, the Larabee Memorial Window was moved to its present location on the library's  front elevation, displacing the original window consisting of beveled, leaded-glass lancet windows and a transom window bearing the inscription "Library.“ This window was placed on on the library's south elevation, displacing the window on that elevation. This displaced window was installed in the opening left vacant by the Larabee Memorial Window located in the northeast corner of the library's rear elevation  

         

          Capping the entrance as well as the Larabee Memorial Window is a tin Corinthian cornice painted white and supported by four tin Corinthian consoles, also painted white. The aluminum awning over the entrance is not original to the elevation and obscures a view of the entrance's stained glass. Terminating the front elevation is a finely detailed tin Corinthian cornice painted white that wraps around the building. A tin gargoyle rain spout is located at the northwest corner of the Corinthian cornice over the entrance and another gargoyle is located at the northwest corner of the cornice on the library's north elevation. A pyramidal roof completes the building (Plate 1).  

 

          With minor exceptions the north and south side elevations were identical. The library's original south elevation was demolished in 1974-1975, when a new wing was added. Unlike the south elevation, the north elevation is defined by three basement windows that intrude on the water table and a steel coal chute door sitting on top of the water table. With the exception of the Larabee Memorial Window, the side elevations have the same fenestration as the library's other windows and, like them, are terminated by a plain a Corinthian entablature supported by a pair of consoles. Completing both side elevations is the finely detailed, tin Corinthian cornice painted white (Plates 1 & 5).

          The original east, rear elevation of the library was replaced in 1963 by the Richardson Wing, a 29 x 36 foot addition, given by Mrs. William E. Richardson in memory of her husband.  Stafford contractor Marvin Dierking  (b. 1923) began work in June and the addition was dedicated on September 21, 1963.  The Richardson Wing increased the library's floor space by half, providing room for shelving, reading and a study area. 

 

          The east elevation's original fenestration was removed and inserted in the Richardson Wing, and the bricks for the new wing were made to order so  they would match the library's elevations.  In other significant respects the new wing differed from original east elevation, The Richardson Wing is without a basement and sits upon a concrete slab. Gone is the limestone string course that acted as the lintel for the elevation's original windows as well as the Corinthian cornice, and the pyramidal roof that was replaced by a flat roof (Plate 6). The north and south side elevation√•s of the Richardson Wing are now solid brick walls, with quoins at the corners and limestone band below the roof line (Plate 5). The one-room interior of the Richardson Wing is one step lower than the rest of the library and has plaster walls to match the original library walls.       

         
         
The last alteration to the library's exterior was in 1974-1975 (Plate 1)  At that time a 20 x 40 foot wing was added to the south, side elevation of the library to store children's books.
  Originally the children's books were stored in the basement until water seeping into the basement caused their removal to the Richardson Wing where they were placed on temporary shelving. The architect of the new south wing was Winston A. Schmidt (1918-1977) of Mann and Company, Hutchinson, Kansas  and the contractor was Bernard Bartlett (1929-2003) of Stafford. The cost of the south wing was $22,500.00, all of which was raised by public donations. The new wing was opened to the public with an library open house on Sunday, June 9, 1976.

 

          The new south wing is without a basement and sits on a concrete slab. The addition is not quite as tall as the library's elevations and is slightly recessed  from the library's west, front elevation. The addition has an abbreviated Corinthian cornice that wraps around all three elevations and has a flat roof. The only opening on the new south elevation is a door reached by a brick ramp providing access to the library for the disabled. When the new addition was added to the south elevation, the large window with stained glass lancets and transom bearing the inscription "Library“ was removed and installed on the west, front elevation of the 1974-1975 addition (Plate 7). Although it was not returned to its original site now occupied by the Larabee Memorial Window, the two inscriptions are once again united on the Library's front elevation for all to see. The east, rear elevation of the 1974-1975 addition is a solid brick wall and on the north it abuts the south wall of the Richardson Wing (Plate 6).
          The interior of the library consisted of a furnished reading room and a stack room both retaining their twenty-foot high pressed tin ceilings originally  painted white, but now rendered in ivory (Plate 8). The library had an unfinished basement with a dirt floor and a furnace located in the north part of the basement. A door in the vestibule leads to the basement. An article in the May, 1906 Stafford Courier stated that the two-room library "will contain a commodious and elegantly furnished reading room and stack room"
The quarter-sawn oak bookcases with lidded glass fronts lining the walls of both rooms were made by the Globe-Wernicke Company. There were quarter-sawn oak Arts and Crafts tables and chairs and a Stickley rocking chair. Much of the original furniture has been dispersed. The Stickley rocking chair, much of the Arts and Crafts furniture and the Globe-Wernicke oak bookcases were donated to the Stafford Museum, now housed in what was the Larabee family's Farmers National Bank. One set of Arts and Crafts table and chairs is still in the library, but has been given a limed oak finish (Plate 9).

         

          Through the years, the tradition of a memorial library encouraged other memorial gifts, greatly enhancing the library. In 1936, the first of many improvements occurred. The library board undertook the finishing of the southern half of the basement, left in an unfinished state at the library's completion in 1906. The job of finishing the southern half of the basement was undertaken by Charlie Thompson of Stafford. A concrete floor was laid, a composition board ceiling installed, and two windows were cut into the south wall and one in the east wall. The new south basement room was used for magazine storage and other library materials. In the spring of 1942 the northern half of the basement was finished. The labor was donated by the employees of the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company, and the cost of materials was donated by Stafford's citizens.   

 

          In 1945 during the waning months of the Second World War, the library was the recipient of the Nancy Charlotte Donnelly Memorial Fireplace located in the Children's Room in the southern half of the basement. In 1944,  three-year-old Nancy C. Donnelly, the daughter of Lt. and Mrs. Richard Donnelly stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, died of polio.  In her memory, Richard Donnelly's fellow officers of 211th Ordnance Battalion, Fort Knox, Kentucky, donated the funds for a tile fireplace, illustrating popular nursery rhymes, to be placed in the Children's Room (Plate 10). The fireplace's tile surround was probably made by the Mosaic Tile Company (1894-1972) of Zanesville, Ohio. 

 

          A small, but much needed addition, was a balcony erected in the east part of the north half of the library behind the check-out desk. The balcony, which provided shelving for books, was donated in 1955  by Charles Wright (1901-1968) and Lila A. Larabee (1906-1988) in memory of Charles's parents Frederick D. (1868-1920) and May Wadsworth Larabee (1869-1946). 

 



Stafford Courier, 10 May 1906.

Ibid.

The Larabee Memorial Library is located on the north 60 feet of Lots One, Two and Three of Tyrrell's Sub-Division of Block Number Two of the original site of the City of Stafford, "Warranty Deed“ fol. 423.

Stafford County Republican, 7 December 1905.

Nora's portrait in the stained glass window was taken from an oil portrait, based on a photograph, donated to the library by the family. The  practice of making oil copies of portrait photographs was a common practice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Stafford Courier, 10 January 1963, p. 1.

Ibid., 19 September  1963, p.1.

Ibid. 10 January  1963, p. 1.

Ibid.

Ibid., 19 September 1963, p. 1.

Stafford Courier, 27 August 1975, p. 1.

Conversation with the Hutchinson Librarian, 10 June 2004.

Ibid., 20 March 1975, p. 1.

Ibid., 9 June 1976, p. 1.

Stafford Courier, 10 May 1906.

Conversation with Dixie K. Osborn, Librarian of the Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library, 1 August 2004.

Stafford Courier, 27 February 1936.

Ibid., 26 March 1942, p. 1.

Ibid., 26 October 1944, p. 4.

I am grateful to my friend and colleague, Vance A. Koehler, Curator of the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, Doylestown, Pennsylvania for his attribution of the tiles in the Donnelly Memorial  Fireplace, Letter of 30 July 2004.

Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library Balcony Dedication, 6 April 1955.



The Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library, located at 108 North Union Street in Stafford, Kansas, is a one-story brick building measuring 30 x 40 feet, with a partially finished, full basement (Plate 1).  The red brick, tinged with purple exterior of the library, is laid in running bond with flush mortar joints. According to the Stafford Courier the brick is "Pittsburgh vitrified paving brick." The front elevation of the library faces west onto Union Street, the first brick street in Stafford, connecting the Santa Fe Depot at its northern terminus to the Missouri Pacific depot at its southern terminus and one block west of Main Street, the town's major commercial thoroughfare. Construction of the library, which was built to be fireproof, began with excavation work in December 1905. The brickwork for the library was laid by Stafford resident Lew Dellinger (b. 1858), and the library was completed at the end of 1906 for an estimated cost of $5,000.00. 

 

          The three-bay west, front elevation sits upon a limestone watercourse surmounted by a series of four projecting brick courses alternating with four single recessed brick courses repeated on all four elevations. Above is a limestone string course wrapping around the library and serving as the sill for the library's fenestration. The first floor corners have brick quoins that terminate at the entablature of the Corinthian cornice. Stairs, flanked by brick pedestals sitting on a limestone base and capped with limestone slabs, lead to the library's entrance (Plate 2). The entrance door, which is original to the building, opens to a shallow vestibule leading to an inner entrance door. Both are glass doors flanked by beveled leaded-glass lancet windows decorated with stylized flowers on long stems. The transom window above the outer entrance has a stained-glass window with the word "Memorial“ at its center as well as beveled leaded-glass panes above the lancet windows decorated with stylized flowers. By contrast, the transom window above the inner door has beveled lead glass decorated with stylized flowers (Plate 3).

 

          Between the entrance and the elevation's only window is a brick surface with a concrete tablet bearing the inscription: "Erected in Memory of Nora E. Larabee by Her Father and Mother“ The building history of the Larabee Memorial Library is a history of migrating windows. The original six-part window on the front elevation consisted of a one-over-one sash window in the center flanked by beveled, leaded-glass lancet windows decorated with abstract flowers on long stems. Above the lancet windows were small panes of beveled, leaded-glass decorated with abstract flowers. The stained-glass transom window above the central window bore the word "Library“ and complemented the word "Memorial“ in the transom window above the entrance door. Today, the window occupying the space is the Nora E. Larabee Memorial Window with Nora's portrait at its center, donated by Nora's brothers Frank Sheridan Larabee (1864-1921) and Frederick Delos Larabee (1868-1920) in their sister's memory (Plate 4). 

 

          Originally, the Larabee Memorial Window was situated in the northeast corner of the east, rear elevation of the library, where it could be seen through the outer and inner glass entrance doors. We do not know when or why the window was removed from the rear elevation to its present location on the library's front elevation. A 1913 postcard view shows the Larabee Memorial Window still in its original location on the rear elevation. At some point before 1963, when the Richardson wing was added to the rear elevation, the Larabee Memorial Window was moved to its present location on the library's  front elevation, displacing the original window consisting of beveled, leaded-glass lancet windows and a transom window bearing the inscription "Library." This window was placed on on the libraryv south elevation, displacing the window on that elevation. This displaced window was installed in the opening left vacant by the Larabee Memorial Window located in the northeast corner of the library's rear elevation  

         

          Capping the entrance as well as the Larabee Memorial Window is a tin Corinthian cornice painted white and supported by four tin Corinthian consoles, also painted white. The aluminum awning over the entrance is not original to the elevation and obscures a view of the entrance's stained glass. Terminating the front elevation is a finely detailed tin Corinthian cornice painted white that wraps around the building. A tin gargoyle rain spout is located at the northwest corner of the Corinthian cornice over the entrance and another gargoyle is located at the northwest corner of the cornice on the library's north elevation. A pyramidal roof completes the building (Plate 1).  

 

          With minor exceptions the north and south side elevations were identical. The library's original south elevation was demolished in 1974-1975, when a new wing was added. Unlike the south elevation, the north elevation is defined by three basement windows that intrude on the water table and a steel coal chute door sitting on top of the water table. With the exception of the Larabee Memorial Window, the side elevations have the same fenestration as the library's other windows and, like them, are terminated by a plain a Corinthian entablature supported by a pair of consoles. Completing both side elevations is the finely detailed, tin Corinthian cornice painted white (Plates 1 & 5).

          The original east, rear elevation of the library was replaced in 1963 by the Richardson Wing, a 29 x 36 foot addition, given by Mrs. William E. Richardson in memory of her husband.  Stafford contractor Marvin Dierking  (b. 1923) began work in June and the addition was dedicated on September 21, 1963.  The Richardson Wing increased the library√•s floor space by half, providing room for shelving, reading and a study area. 

 

          The east elevation's original fenestration was removed and inserted in the Richardson Wing, and the bricks for the new wing were made to order so  they would match the library's elevations.  In other significant respects the new wing differed from original east elevation, The Richardson Wing is without a basement and sits upon a concrete slab. Gone is the limestone string course that acted as the lintel for the elevation's original windows as well as the Corinthian cornice, and the pyramidal roof that was replaced by a flat roof (Plate 6). The north and south side elevation's of the Richardson Wing are now solid brick walls, with quoins at the corners and limestone band below the roof line (Plate 5). The one-room interior of the Richardson Wing is one step lower than the rest of the library and has plaster walls to match the original library walls.       

         
         
The last alteration to the library's exterior was in 1974-1975 (Plate 1)  At that time a 20 x 40 foot wing was added to the south, side elevation of the library to store children's books.
  Originally the children's books were stored in the basement until water seeping into the basement caused their removal to the Richardson Wing where they were placed on temporary shelving. The architect of the new south wing was Winston A. Schmidt (1918-1977) of Mann and Company, Hutchinson, Kansas  and the contractor was Bernard Bartlett (1929-2003) of Stafford. The cost of the south wing was $22,500.00, all of which was raised by public donations. The new wing was opened to the public with an library open house on Sunday, June 9, 1976.

 

          The new south wing is without a basement and sits on a concrete slab. The addition is not quite as tall as the library's elevations and is slightly recessed  from the library's west, front elevation. The addition has an abbreviated Corinthian cornice that wraps around all three elevations and has a flat roof. The only opening on the new south elevation is a door reached by a brick ramp providing access to the library for the disabled. When the new addition was added to the south elevation, the large window with stained glass lancets and transom bearing the inscription "Library“ was removed and installed on the west, front elevation of the 1974-1975 addition (Plate 7). Although it was not returned to its original site now occupied by the Larabee Memorial Window, the two inscriptions are once again united on the Library's front elevation for all to see. The east, rear elevation of the 1974-1975 addition is a solid brick wall and on the north it abuts the south wall of the Richardson Wing (Plate 6).
          The interior of the library consisted of a furnished reading room and a stack room both retaining their twenty-foot high pressed tin ceilings originally  painted white, but now rendered in ivory (Plate 8). The library had an unfinished basement with a dirt floor and a furnace located in the north part of the basement. A door in the vestibule leads to the basement. An article in the May, 1906 Stafford Courier stated that the two-room library "will contain a commodious and elegantly furnished reading room and stack room"
The quarter-sawn oak bookcases with lidded glass fronts lining the walls of both rooms were made by the Globe-Wernicke Company. There were quarter-sawn oak Arts and Crafts tables and chairs and a Stickley rocking chair. Much of the original furniture has been dispersed. The Stickley rocking chair, much of the Arts and Crafts furniture and the Globe-Wernicke oak bookcases were donated to the Stafford Museum, now housed in what was the Larabee family's Farmers National Bank. One set of Arts and Crafts table and chairs is still in the library, but has been given a limed oak finish (Plate 9).

         

          Through the years, the tradition of a memorial library encouraged other memorial gifts, greatly enhancing the library. In 1936, the first of many improvements occurred. The library board undertook the finishing of the southern half of the basement, left in an unfinished state at the library's completion in 1906. The job of finishing the southern half of the basement was undertaken by Charlie Thompson of Stafford. A concrete floor was laid, a composition board ceiling installed, and two windows were cut into the south wall and one in the east wall. The new south basement room was used for magazine storage and other library materials. In the spring of 1942 the northern half of the basement was finished. The labor was donated by the employees of the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company, and the cost of materials was donated by Stafford's citizens.   

 

          In 1945 during the waning months of the Second World War, the library was the recipient of the Nancy Charlotte Donnelly Memorial Fireplace located in the Children's Room in the southern half of the basement. In 1944,  three-year-old Nancy C. Donnelly, the daughter of Lt. and Mrs. Richard Donnelly stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, died of polio.  In her memory, Richard Donnelly's fellow officers of 211th Ordnance Battalion, Fort Knox, Kentucky, donated the funds for a tile fireplace, illustrating popular nursery rhymes, to be placed in the Children's Room (Plate 10). The fireplace√•s tile surround was probably made by the Mosaic Tile Company (1894-1972) of Zanesville, Ohio. 

 

          A small, but much needed addition, was a balcony erected in the east part of the north half of the library behind the check-out desk. The balcony, which provided shelving for books, was donated in 1955  by Charles Wright (1901-1968) and Lila A. Larabee (1906-1988) in memory of Charles's parents Frederick D. (1868-1920) and May Wadsworth Larabee (1869-1946). 

 



Stafford Courier, 10 May 1906.

Ibid.

The Larabee Memorial Library is located on the north 60 feet of Lots One, Two and Three of Tyrrell's Sub-Division of Block Number Two of the original site of the City of Stafford, "Warranty Deed“ fol. 423.

Stafford County Republican, 7 December 1905.

Nora's portrait in the stained glass window was taken from an oil portrait, based on a photograph, donated to the library by the family. The  practice of making oil copies of portrait photographs was a common practice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Stafford Courier, 10 January 1963, p. 1.

Ibid., 19 September  1963, p.1.

Ibid. 10 January  1963, p. 1.

Ibid.

Ibid., 19 September 1963, p. 1.

Stafford Courier, 27 August 1975, p. 1.

Conversation with the Hutchinson Librarian, 10 June 2004.

Ibid., 20 March 1975, p. 1.

Ibid., 9 June 1976, p. 1.

Stafford Courier, 10 May 1906.

Conversation with Dixie K. Osborn, Librarian of the Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library, 1 August 2004.

Stafford Courier, 27 February 1936.

Ibid., 26 March 1942, p. 1.

Ibid., 26 October 1944, p. 4.

I am grateful to my friend and colleague, Vance A. Koehler, Curator of the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, Doylestown, Pennsylvania for his attribution of the tiles in the Donnelly Memorial  Fireplace, Letter of 30 July 2004.

Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library Balcony Dedication, 6 April 1955.


 


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