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< Gouverneur Benefactors — Julia Sheldon Neary


Julia Sheldon Neary, was one of the founders of the Gouverneur Reading Room. She was the sister of James Sheldon and Emma Sheldon, creator of the museum's hair wreath.  This portrait hangs in the Women's Room.

In 1885, a "Reading Room" was established by the Gouverneur chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. They had tried various ways to "benefit the youth of the town," but this was certainly their most lasting effort. 


They opened a room in what was called the "Reynolds Block." (Formerly J.J. Newberry's and now the home of Fashion Craze) and furnished it with whatever "suitable" magazines and books were available. The WCTU also contributed $30.00 to purchase furniture. The first librarian was Miss Mary Fowler.

By 1886, the Reading Room had become a circulating library. In 1895, Judge James Smith, a former resident of Gouverneur, purchased the Sheldon property for $3,500.00, and presented it to the Association. In 1900, Newton Aldrich gave $5,000.00 to the building committee and the present building (made of Gouverneur marble) was completed by local contractor, Henry Post. (builder of the Museum and depot)

Clicking the images will magnify them.

Many improvements have been made in the library and its services. But the Gouverneur Library is still in the original building. The website states: "Additional rooms were added in 1953 and 1970 and a handicapped ramp and lift in 1995. There are currently six public access computers with Internet access, a photocopier, fax machine, scanner, microfilm reader/ printer, TV, VCR and DVD player for public use. The community room is available for group meetings. The library circulates videotapes, DVDs and books on cassette and CD, as well as books and magazines. Many varied programs are held throughout the year for children and adults."

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