VAN SHAICK FREE READING ROOM / HUNTINGTON FREE LIBRARY & READING ROOM

9 Westchester Square
1882-83, Frederick Clarke Withers; Addition, 1890-92, William Anderson

One of the earliest institutions on Westchester Square and the first library in this portion of The Bronx, the Van Shaick Free Reading Room/Huntington Free Library and Reading Room was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and completed in 1883. Born and educated in England, Withers became known for his Victorian Gothic designs, epitomized by his 1874 Jefferson Market Courthouse. Commissioned by the executors of the estate of tobacco merchant Peter C. Van Shaick, who left $15,000 for the construction of free a reading room for Westchester, the building sat vacant after the town government refused to take on the property and its burdensome maintenance. In 1890, Cornelius Huntington, a railroad magnate with a summer home nearby, purchased the building, expanded it, and endowed it with funds to cover its operating expenses. The building is entered through an arched doorway set within a one- bay tower, which features a terra cotta plaque and rondels that commemorate Cornelius Huntington’s donation in 1890. A rear addition, completed in 1892, is sensitive to the original materials of the structure and features an ornate chimney with terracotta tiling. The Huntington Free Library is a NYC Individual Landmark.

Less