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The Etna Library:

Stories of a Town and Its People

by Frank J. Barrett, Jr.

Morris Hayes and Sled

Morris Hayes and his father Almond Hayes are shown in front of the Hanover Town Library in a family photo that was taken around 1912 when Morris was about three years old. Morris Hayes moved to Etna from Claremont with his parents, Almond and Nellie, when he was 6 months old.

His grandparents, Charles and Alma Hayes, lived in a house on Etna Road and Morris's family also had a home on this road. As a young man, Morris worked as an apprentice brick mason in the building of Baker Library and later worked as a brick mason for Trumbull-Nelson Construction Company. A complete set of Beatrix Potter books was donated to the Hanover Town Library in memory of Morris Hayes by the Dartmouth Book Store in honor of his service to the community.

Photograph of Morris Hayes and his father Almond Hayes, in front of the Hanover Town Library around 1912

Robert Calvin Trumbull


Small towns across America are hardly immune to the effects of war. In 1944, the Trustees of the Hanover Town Library, Helene A. Poland, Martha T. Fuller, and Adna L. Camp wrote in the Annual Report of the Selectmen of the Town of Hanover, "The Hanover Town Library has been open ninety-seven days this year. The number of books loaned has been slightly smaller this year. This fact is not surprising when we realize the extra amount of work everyone is called upon to do in these days of war. The library is still being used every Thursday for the work on Red Cross surgical dressings."

Tragically, Etna lost five young men in WWII, including Robert Calvin Trumbull, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Myron Trumbull. He is shown here in front of the Hanover Town Library in 1945. An aviation mechanic in the Army Air Corps, he died in service on May 20, 1945 and was buried in the Hanover Cemetery with full military honors.

Robert Trumbull photograph. Shows him in front of the Hanover Town Library, holding skies.

Inside of the Library


Interior of the library, looking south-southwest. The one room is finished in varnished hazelwood. The interior decor, like the exterior, has changed remarkably little over the years. The exact date of the photograph to the right is not known; the reverse has an inscription attributing it to the "early days of the libary."

Books were moved into the new building on March 10, 1906. The Hanover Annual Report of 1906 notes that, "The suitable furnishing of the building was not possible with the resources at hand; but loyal friends and citizens have generously stepped in and made such a substantial beginning that the building is already handsomely fitted for service."

Most of the original furniture remains, including many of the items inventoried in the 1906 Report of the Trustees as a donation from E.H. Wright valued at $140: a solid oak desk, eight-foot table, and six chairs.

Old photograph of the interior of the Hanover Town Library

Hanover Town Library Clock


The Hanover Town Library clock was made by the Waterbury Clock Company, one of the many Connecticut clock manufacturers that started in the mid-19th century. The clock is a Waterbury model 67 regulator, a model first made in 1912.

The clock contains a new innovation of that time in that it uses two balanced weights to run a single time gear train. The benefit of this design is that the clock won't miss a beat while the one weight is being wound up because the other weight is driving the movement during the winding. The timepiece is wound weekly. The Hanover Town Library clock was cleaned and antique parts repaired in 2000 by Carl Diener of New Life Clockworks, shown in phot to the right.

Photograph of the antique clock hanging on the wall at the library and a clock repair person working on it.

Charles Hayes and His Dog


Charles W. Hayes was owner of the Hayes Store from 1883 to 1914. The Hanover Free Library was located in Hayes Hall over "Charley's Store" from 1899 until the Hanover Town Library was completed in 1905.

Child's 1886 Grafton County Gazeteer describes Charles Hayes as "Librarian of Etna Library, Dealer in Groceries, Provisions, Dry Goods, Crockery, Boots, Etc. (cited by Frank J. Barrett Jr. in Hanover, New Hampshire, Vol. II.)

Photograph of Charles W. Hayes and his dog.

Outside View of the Library

The Hanover Town Library is a true architectural gem. Excerpts from the 1906 Report of the Trustees on the construction of the Town Library detail the exceptional effort, materials and workmanship that went into the library's construction:

" architect's fee and a contractor's profit would have taken too large a share of the amount; hence the trustees themselves made the plans and bought the materials and superintended the work. The best materials were procured, the workmanship is first-class throughout, and it is believed that there will be little or no need of repairs for years to come. The brick was from an extra good lot at the Lebanon yard, and was laid by very competent masons."


"Cement was used to strengthen the mortar. The roof is covered with slate and copper, materials the most durable to be had for the purpose. The interior is 25 ft. by 33 ft., in one room, finished in hazelwood throughout and varnished. This includes the window casings, the vestibule and the door, the shelving which extends entirely around the room, and a paneled ceiling overhead. The brick walls are double, 8 inch and 4 inch, with a 2 inch air space, 14 inches total; there is also the air space behind the plastering; so the building should be exceptionally dry and easily warmed."

"More than fifty trips were made, involving a total of nearly 500 miles, by one or more members of the Board, to arrange for the work or to superintend it while in progress. One member freely gave the use of his team for this purpose; another prepared the plans and blueprints and made frequent visits; the local member closely supervised the work and gave much personal assistance day after day. For all of this there is no charge against the town. The Board thinks that the citizens should understand that only in this way has it been possible to turn over to the Town at this time a commodious and thoroughly built structure at a cost far below what is usual for buildings of like size and quality."

Photograph of the outside of the library.

Hanover Gazette


Charles Front page of the weekly Hanover Gazette reporting the dedication of the Etna Library at the Old Home Day observance in August, 1905. On November 2 the newspaper reported: "The library is nearly completed now, and a very pretty building it is."

"To these free public libraries we must look to do much that is needed to make our experiment in democracy successful. The library must do its part in making school-children more intelligent, the voter more judicious, the social life of farm and village more decent, the intellectual life of the average man and woman more vigorous and wholesome." -- excerpt from Professor H. Foster's speech, reproduced by the Hanover Gazette, right. Professor Foster was the founder of Dartmouth's History Department.

Hanover Gazette page showing an article about the library's dedication.

Dedication Ode


The ode sung at the Etna Library dedication (right), from the Hanover Gazette, Thursday September 7, 1905.

Scan of the ode sung at the library's dedication.

Miss Katherine Spencer

Miss Katherine Spencer was librarian from 1935-53. In 1948 the library was open two afternoons a week, Wednesday and Saturday. In the summer of that year Miss Spencer began a summer reading club for the youth of the town, called the "Cowboy Club of Etna."

Miss Spencer wrote of the library's history in a letter to Margaret Beck McCallum in 1960, reminiscing about the early days when it was housed in Hayes Hall over 'Charley's Store,' "where you could buy almost everything." She mentions that in the library's vault, "You will find some interesting old books: Godey's Ladies Book, a leather bound book of the Acts of Congress, many signed 'Approved, G. Washington, President.'"


Edward Payton Storrs

Edward Payton Storrs (1842-1916), known as E.P., presented this speech at the dedication ceremony for the Hanover Town Library in 1905. This event took place at the Old Home Day celebration. E.P. Storrs was born in Hanover Center in 1842.


During the Civil War, he worked as a telegraph operator on the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad. Circa 1883, E.P. Storrs started the Dartmouth Book Store after purchasing the business of Nelson McClary, a stationer in the Cobb building.


Storrs was a representative in the state legislature for the year 1892-3, served as a selectman of the town for eighteen consecutive years (1893-1910), and was precinct commissioner for three years. He was superintendent of the Water Works from its beginning in 1893 until his death.

Photograph of librarian Katherine Spences, shown standing beside a cow.

School Children

Etna school children and teachers stand outside for their picture in 1898. Over the years, the reports of the Hanover Town Library Trustees show a focus on children's services.

In 1906, Librarian T.W. Praddex reported "We are glad to notice that a majority of the young people are selecting many of the best and educational books." In 1930, when Nettie J. Praddex was librarian, the Town Library report stated: "By request of the teachers of the town schools and arrangement with the librarian, thirty books -- more or less-- were selected especially for use in prescribed courses of reading by pupils of the various grades. In general, a considerable proportion of all the books purchased have been chosen in the interest of young folks."

Edward Payton Storrs document.

Carriage in Front of Hayes Store

The Hanover Free Library was opened to the public on February 4, 1899 in Hayes Hall over 'Charley's Store.' According to the report of the library trustees in 1899, "More than fifty people were present on the opening day, and the library has since been well patronized."

Funds for the library were obtained through the New Hampshire Library Act of 1891, the town appropriation, and a donation of books by Edward P. Storrs, owner of the Dartmouth Book Store. The Etna Library and Debating Society, begun in 1874 and having 77 members at its most active time, donated its collection of 300 books to the new library (as cited in the Hanover Bicentennial Book.)

Hayes Store.tiff

Nighttime View of the Library

Electric lights were installed in the Hanover Town Library in 1932 at a cost of $112.10. An excerpt from the 1932 Report of the Trustees states:

"The need for more adequate lighting through the afternoons of late autumn and the winter season, had become so great, that the trustees felt called upon to equip the building permanently with a system of electric lights. A light of sufficient power is set in each corner, and a central light over the center table and desk. The amount of current used incurs only the minimum charge of one dollar per month. This improvement makes it possible for visitors to linger in the library, even into the twilight hours, and become better acquainted with the books."

Photograph of the exterior of the library at night.

Robert Fletcher

Robert Fletcher's contributions to Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover and numerous and legendary: first professor of engineering at the Thayer School, director of the Thayer School of Engineering for 47 years, and director and president of the Hanover Water Works Company for almost forty years.

Fletcher also had a great love for the Hanover Town Library. As a member of the board of library trustees during the planning phase of the building, he drew up a meticulous set of blueprints for a fee of nine dollars.

As the architect, he personally oversaw the construction of the building. His close supervision and attention to detail created a beautiful building that has withstood the test of time.


In 1996, Frank J. Barrett Jr. succeeded in placing the Hanover Town Library into the National Register of Historic Places.

Return to main History page.

Photograph of Robert Fletcher shown next to a blueprint of the library.
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