History of the Bradford Public Library
Bradford had its first known settlers in 1765 and was widely known as the home of the Morgan Horse and the Bradford Strawberry, and was often hailed as “Bradford, the Beautiful”.
In 1796 Bradford gained the honor and distinction of being the first town in Vermont in which a library was chartered.
In 1895 John L. Woods willed a sum of $15,000.00 to the Bradford Public Library. After purchasing the land for $500.00 the present day library was built. On July 4, 1895, the Woods Library was dedicated with proper ceremonies.
Lambert Packard designed the building along with the present day Richardson Block. Mr. Packard was sent to school by the famous Fairbanks family, who established the Fairbanks Museum.
We are very proud to have this beautiful library in our town and very thankful for the gift bestowed on us by Mr. J.L. Woods. As stated in the address at the dedication in 1895, “Two sentiments dominate the day — loyalty to the nation and love of learning. Our first duty is to acknowledge our obligation to the man to whose generous gift Bradford owes its first permanent library building.”
The Woods Library Building, which stands at the intersection of U.S. Route 5 and South Main Street is the focus of the south end of the business district. Built in 1894-95, the library was designed by Lambert Packard of St Johnsbury, Vermont, in his adaptation of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Owing to the sloping site, the building is 1-1/2 stories on its main (west) or South Main Street elevation and 2-1/2 stories on its east (U.S. Route 5) elevation.
The library is of brick construction with rusticated stone sills, water table, and foundation on an irregular plan and has a polygonal north apse capped by a polygonal roof with projecting gable dormers, a 2-story octagonal tower with a belcast peak on the west elevation next to the main entrance, and transverse gables intersecting the hip roof over the main body of the building. One-story circular tourelles with conical peaks swell from the southwest and southeast corners of the building. The main gable entrance pavilion abutting the tower on the south has a round portal, the arch form being repeated in the windows on the transverse gables, the tower, and apse. Foliated terra cotta panels and finials provide polychrome ornament. Denticulated and decorative brick bands define cornice and belt courses around the perimeter of the building and crown the round arch fenestration. A granite public water box (one of three remaining in the village) is located at the point of the intersection between South Main Street and U.S. Route 5.