The story of the Jeudevine Memorial Library really begins with the story of Alden Jeudevine whose widow, Malvina, gave the library to the Town of Hardwick in honor of her deceased husband, Alden, and their deceased son, Cornelius. A stone plaque over the fireplace inside the library states:
"Erected by M.M. Jeudevine in memory of her Husband and Son"
Alden's father was a country merchant of Concord, Vermont. Alden was born on August 4, 18ll. He was educated at Concord Academy. Until he was 28 years old he assisted his father in his mercantile business, gaining the skills he later used in similar endeavors in Hardwick. From 1832 to 1839 he served as the deputy sheriff of Concord and then was elected as High Bailiff.
In 1839 he moved to Hardwick and started his own mercantile business with Jonathan Baker, a cousin from Charlestown, N.H., under the firm name of "Baker and Jeudevine" which lasted 4 to 5 years. He subsequently formed a partnership with Adolphus Holton, known as "Holton and Jeudevine" which lasted until 1867. During that time he had several other side ventures. Ledgers from the companies are kept at the library in the historical collection and may be viewed.
In 1867 Alden retired from his career as a merchant in order to devote himself to his family and the care of his real estate which amounted to several thousand
acres. He was a pioneer in the free soil movement, an anti-slavery man, and a prominent member of the Republican Party. He began to serve in office and held many elective and appointed
Town Clerk for 7 years
Town Selectman for 10 years
Postmaster for 23 years (first appointed in President Tyler's term, last by Abraham Lincoln)
Assistant Judge of the County 1850-1851
County Commissioner 1854
Member of the Constitutional Conventions of 1850, 1857 and 1870
State Representative for Hardwick for Annual Sessions of 1853 and 1854
State Representative for the Biennial Sessions of 1878 and 1880
State Senator for Caledonia County for 1860 and 1861
In the chapter on the Town of Hardwick in THE GAZETEER of Caledonia and Essex Counties 1764-1887 by Hamilton Child (p.
217 c.1888) Alden is described:
"Mr. Jeudevine has succeeded in his undertakings and acquired wealth, and the key to his success lies in his energy, perseverance and indomitable courage. Cautious and conservative, he does not hastily form his plans or arrive at conclusions; but when his course of action is formed, he is positive and persistent in obtaining a successful issue. Like his father he is a strong temperance man, never using liquor in any form. He has always been a prominent factor in town meetings, and has originated more improvements than any other man who ever lived in Hardwick.... In many and various ways he has demonstrated himself a useful citizen, wise in counsel, sagacious in plans, original in his conceptions, and a valuable constituent of society, ever throwing the weight of his strong individuality on the side of law and order. The business interests of this town and section are largely indebted to him for their growth and prosperity, and he has taken part in the erection of mills, factories, stores and dwellings to a great extent in this locality. A man of strict integrity, his word is considered as good as his bond, and neither were ever repudiated. As a merchant he was shrewd, industrious, careful and systematic in the details of his business. In his life he illustrates the phases that distinguish the genuine New Englander – energy, frugality, industry and persistency, and enjoys the friendship and esteem of the leading citizens of the county."
Alden married Malvina M. Tuttle, daughter of Captain David and Anna Emerson (Goss) Tuttle (and granddaughter of the Reverend Amos Tuttle, the first settled minister of Hardwick) on April 11, 1858. They had four children; three of them died in infancy. The remaining, beloved son, Cornelius, fondly called Nealy, was born on June 26, 1861. He grew to be 6 feet tall. There is a portrait engraving of Nealy in the library done when he was 11 years, 7 months and 21 days old. "He was a model youth in all that relates to home life, association with his young companions and esteem and reverence for those of mature years; one of whose life furnishes a good example from which young people of this and coming generations would do well to take pattern." (Child, p.219)
Child noted that Nealy was diligent, humble, never acting superior, and played very well in all the "manly sports." Though his family was rich, "the wealth of his parents, instead of inducing a spirit of idleness and frivolity, only served to give an added sense of responsibility to his life, a determination to use his advantages wisely…." (Child, p. 219)
On Saturday, March 23, 1878, Nealy went to his family's sugarbush and caught a cold which culminated in "malignant
erysipelas," which often starts with strep throat and degenerates into a streptococcal inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. Eventually the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and the
victim has total body sepsis. In our era, using antibiotics can prevent this. By Wednesday the celebrated Dr. S.W. Thayer of Burlington was called in, but without success. Nealy died on Friday,
March 29, 1878 at the age of 16 years and 6 months. The newspapers from Montpelier to Hyde Park to Morrisville all wrote of his loss as a public loss. His school friends wrote a series of
resolutions lamenting his death as well as the Hardwick Sunday school.
A year later the Jeudevines sent a photograph of their son to friends with a letter that read:
"...Our idol son died one year ago to-day, aged 16 years, 9 months and 3 days. One year of our sorrowing
has past, and the most unhappy year of our lives, with no anticipation of any real enjoyment in this life. Nothing but Sorrowing, Sorrowing, to our graves is left to us."
Ten years later on February 10, 1888, Alden died. Since he had long wanted to do something to benefit his hometown, his widow Malvina had the Jeudevine Memorial Library built. The preface to this was the recognition by the members of Vermont's General Assembly that libraries were a necessary and important part of any community so that they passed "An Act to Promote the Establishment of Free Public Libraries" in 1894. In turn, the Legislature appointed a State Library Commission. In that year the Vermont State Legislature encouraged towns which had no public libraries to start collections. If a town appropriated sufficient funds and elected five trustees for their public library, the State Library Commission then selected and sent a book collection worth $110.
In 1895 Hardwick accepted this proposal and the Hathaway Free Public Library was organized. The State Library Commission sent books. Judge N.V.B.Hathaway bought $50 more of books. Then Malvina contracted with Lambert Packard to design and build a new library. Packard was an architect employed by the Fairbanks Company in St. Johnsbury. He designed many buildings in Vermont, including the Bradford Library, the Billings Museum at the University of Vermont, the Fairbanks Museum, and he built, but did not design, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, which was designed by John Davis Hatch.
The Jeudevine is built in dark brownstone brought up from the quarries of Libby, Massachusetts. Only the foundation is made of the local granite. Packard was a student of Henry Hobson Richardson and he followed the Romanesque design that Richardson had made famous in many public buildings. Indeed, the plan of the Jeudevine Memorial Library is similar to the Richardson plan of the Quincy (Massachusetts) Public Library. All around the stonework of the building, both inside and outside, are lovely carvings produced by Hardwick stone cutter Bert Reed. There are 9 original stained glass windows which ornament and light up the high ceilings. The inside is very light, due to the abundance of windows, the height of the ceilings, and the golden oak walls. There are portraits of Malvina and Alden and a portrait engraving of Cornelius on view inside.
When the building was finished, the Select Board called a special Town Meeting on December 15, 1897 and accepted the gift from Mrs. Jeudevine. The dedication of the library was held at the Hardwick Academy (no longer standing) and was attended by a full house.
Hardwick has an irreplaceable jewel in the Jeudevine. In a newsletter from the Hardwick Area History Advocates (November 2003) an article about the Jeudevine Memorial Library taken from information in the 1937 Hardwick Town Report stated the following:
$17,000 to build the structure (worth $339,155.67 in year 2000 currency)
$29,000 Cost of the building, the site and the endowment (worth $578,559.67 in year 2000 currency)
In 1937, the librarian was Mrs. Gladys Hooper and the library was open 2 afternoons and 2 evenings. In Patricia Belding's book Where the books are: a guide to Vermont Libraries (c.1996), Muriel Henson, a Jeudevine librarian for 28 years from 1967 to 1995, "described how young children would come to the library for the first time and ask, wide-eyed, 'Is this a castle?'" (p.26)
The library is still beautiful and has hardly been altered at all since it was built. It has served Hardwick for over 100 years. The town has grown and library usage has grown. The library has expanded programs, hours, and materials. The library is an active member of the Vermont Automated Library System and can get materials by interlibrary loan from all over the state, including the college and school libraries. The collection now includes not only books, but also videos, DVDs, audio books, journals, and newspapers.
The library started its first ever Friends of the Jeudevine Library group in January 2002. Many programs for adults and children have been held at the library. The library has had floats in the Spring Festival parade, book discussions, magic shows, storytimes, summer programs, puppet shows, poetry readings, music and more. Since the year 2000, the library has joined with the Hardwick Recreation Committee to make the Haunted Library an essential stop on Halloween night.
The public libraries of Vermont were lucky in the years of 2001 through 2004 to receive grants from the Freeman Foundation. The Jeudevine Memorial Library used our grant money to expand library hours, support programming and purchase equipment. The public libraries were further aided in 2001 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which gave public access computers to libraries all over the state of Vermont. The Jeudevine received 2 computers equipped with a lot of software and the library was able to offer Internet access to the public for the first time. All of these factors have made the Jeudevine a very active place. We now have 10 public access computers, a scanner, printers, fax, copier, and free WiFi 24/7.
Phone: (802) 472-5948
Address: Jeudevine Memorial Library
93 North Main St.
P.O. Box 536
Hardwick, VT 05843