Octagonal library turns 150 as Red Hook celebrates Apple Blossom Day

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Orchards in full bloom are one of the cheeriest signs of spring in the Hudson Valley, and this Saturday, May 9, is officially designated Apple Blossom Day in Red Hook. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Village will celebrate with free live entertainment, a flea market, restaurant specials, street vendors and activities for children, including baby animals, face-painting and balloons. A stage will be set up to present music from the Stringmasters and a performance by the Solas An Lae Dance Company. For more on this fun festival put on annually by the Red Hook Rotary Club, check out the poster at https://clubrunner.blob.core.windows.net/00000002251/en-us/files/homepage/apple-blossom-poster/Apple-Blossom-Flyer-2015-new.pdf.

The Red Hook Public Library is using this festive occasion to celebrate the 150th birthday of its unique eight-sided landmark building with the unveiling of a historical marker, its installation funded by a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation through Historic Red Hook. The ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. this Saturday.

Built for Allen Barringer Hendricks, son of prominent local businessman Jeremiah Hendricks, the building is a rare surviving example of the nationwide fad for octagons launched in the mid-19th century by phrenologist and author Orson Squire Fowler. The building was the personal residence of the Hendricks family until 1933. It was purchased by the Red Hook Public Library in 1935 for $3,800, and renovated for library use by local builder Frank W. Coons for an additional $900.

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Major changes to the building since then have been few. A new roof was installed in the 1950s following a hurricane, while in the 1970s the basement rooms were remodeled in period American style. In 2011 the building received a rear addition and the basement was renovated to become the very popular Children’s Reading Room. For more on the unusual building’s history, check out The Red Hook Public Library: Eight Sides to a Story on Historic Red Hook’s website at https://historicredhook.org/more_resources. More recently, it was designated a five-star library by Library Journal in 2013 and 2014 and was a finalist in the Best Small Library in America award competition, given by Library Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2015.

The unveiling ceremony will be open to the general public. The Red Hook Public Library is located at 7444 South Broadway in Red Hook and on the Web at www.redhooklibrary.org.

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