A Brief History of the Jeudevine Memorial Library

The Jeudevine Memorial Library stands almost exactly as it did when it was donated to Hardwick in 1896, in memory of a beloved husband and son. Malvina Jeudevine not only intended her legacy to last, but infused it with the rich trappings of the gilded era, including elaborate stonework, spiral staircases, swaths of golden oak paneling and stained-glass windows.  Children ever since have been walking wide-eyed into the building and asking, “Is this a castle?”

 

Malvina M. Jeudevine was born Malvina Maria Tuttle on August 13, 1828 in Hardwick, Vermont.  She was the daughter of Captain David and Anna Emerson (Goss) Tuttle and the granddaughter of the Reverend Amos Tuttle, the first settled minister of Hardwick. Given the times, there is not much known about her early years.  On April 11, 1858, she married Alden E. Jeudevine. Their first home was, and still stands, on Route 14 north at what is known as Jeudevine Falls.  They had four children but only one survived past infancy.  His name was Cornelius “Nealy” Alden Jeudevine. 

 

Alden E. Jeudevine was born and educated in Concord, Vermont.  As an adult in the town of Hardwick, he became successful as a businessman with diverse interests in mercantile, granite, lumber, and real estate enterprises.  He also served the community as town clerk, on the select board, postmaster, assistant county court judge, and in the state legislature. 

 

In early spring, the year Nealy was 16, he went for a walk to his family’s sugarbush.  He became ill with a strep infection that these days would be successfully treated with antibiotics. But back then, by the time the doctor arrived from Burlington, nothing could be done. 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 Mrs. Jeudevine 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." Following Nealy’s death, the couple moved from the house in the country to a house they had built in town, now known as the Jeudevine Mansion, just down the street from where the library stands today. 

 

Ten years after their son died, on February 10, 1888, Alden passed away. Since he had long wanted to do something more to benefit his hometown, Malvina created the library lot consisting of two adjoining parcels totaling approximately 0.17 acres in August of 1895.  She 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.

 

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, and the Fairbanks Museum. The Jeudevine is built of 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.

 

When the building was finished, the Hardwick 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 and was attended by a full house. It cost $29,000 to build, including the site, which would be about $745,000 today. 

 

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.

 

The Jeudevine Today

 

Mrs. Jeudevine could not have imagined the changes that have happened in the 120 years since the library opened its doors.  We still offer books and a beautiful building to find and enjoy them in, but there is so much more.  We have movies, magazines, and audio books that can be checked out.  We have a number of computers for public use, both desktop and laptop, and free wifi accessible inside the building as well as 24/7 outside of the building.  We offer copying, scanning, and faxing services and help with computer questions.  If we don’t have the book you are looking for, we can interlibrary loan it for you for free.  With a library card, you can access passes to museums and state parks, online classes, and audio and ebook downloads. However, over time, the town has grown and our lovely castle of a library has not.  It becomes harder and harder with each passing year to offer the town the services it should have, not to mention the rudimentary plumbing, including a basement bathroom reachable only by those nimble enough to traverse a narrow circular staircase!­­­­

 

And yet the building is in wonderful shape for its age. It has required only the most minimal maintenance for close to 100 years, and then in 1994 the furnace was replaced. In 2002 the slate roof was restored with the help of grant money from the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and then the mortar was repointed in 2006 with grant money obtained by Sen. Patrick Leahy from the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.  Between 2009 and 2011 there was drainage work done, the marble of the front entry was replaced, and, with the aid of an energy audit, the attic was super insulated. In the last few years we’ve had a new bulletin board (built and donated by Don Perrine), work on the windows, the window shades, the ceiling fans, and the addition of rugs and new shelving for the youth reading area.

 

All these amendments have been welcome, but they don’t begin to address the lack of space that prevents our library from becoming the kind of modern facility that draws patrons from every sector of the community. In the hundred years our library has been with us, public libraries have evolved into critical community hubs that provide services for at every stage of life, from picture books to retirement magazines and everything in between.  A recent survey showed support for our library to include a community meeting space, outdoor reading areas, expanded free computer and technology services, a youth area separate enough for young voices to be raised, and of course more books!  We hope, with the help of the voters in the town of Hardwick, to pass a bond vote in August 2020 to break ground on an expansion for our beloved library.

 

Library Hours During COVID-19:

  • Monday:         10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday:        10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday:   10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Thursday:       10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Friday:            10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Saturday:       10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday:                  Closed

Library Hours (Not currently in use):

  • Monday:         1:00  PM - 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday:        1:00  PM - 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday:  1:00  PM - 7:00 PM
  • Thursday:      1:00  PM - 5:00 PM
  • Friday:         10:00  AM - 5:00 PM
  • Saturday:     10:00  AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday:                 Closed

Phone: (802) 472-5948

 

Email: jeudevinelibrary@hardwickvt.org

            jeudevineyouthlibrarian@hardwickvt.org

 

Address: Jeudevine Memorial Library

                 93 North Main St.

                 P.O. Box 536

                 Hardwick, VT 05843