History of the Lydia Taft Pratt Library
Most of what we know of the origins of the Lydia Taft Pratt Library we know from the minutes of the Dummerston Town Meetings and from the history told in the book Dummerston: An “Equivalent Lands” Town 1753-1986. This volume, published by The Dummerston Historical Society in 1990, contains information largely collected by Freda Carpenter who “spent many hours, days, and years, searching every ‘nook and cranny,’ books, libraries, scrapbooks, diaries, and cemeteries. She was helped by many people who shared treasured pictures, memories, newspaper clippings etc.” (pg. IX)
Lydia Taft Pratt had been a teacher at the Bridge School in West Dummerston as well as in Greenfield, MA. According to Dummerston, “One of Mrs. Pratt’s wishes at the last was that the little library of books which she had used as a teacher might be brought back to West Dummerston and used as the nucleus of a village library.” (pg. 149) Lydia Taft Pratt Library was established in March of 1914, when the residents of Dummerston voted at Town Meeting in favor of establishing a municipal library. The library was located in the homes of various residents until “sometime after 1921 when the West Dummerston Grange members remodeled the Grange cloak room to be used as a library, free of charge.” (The library still holds several of the original books from Lydia Taft Pratt’s collection, and we dream about having an appropriate place to display them so that they are available to historians with an interest in the town of Dummerston.)
The library moved to one of the rooms in the former West Dummerston School building circa 1990ish. Although there is no written account of how this arrangement came into being, the library is presently funded by the town in order to pay rent towards the upkeep of the historical building at 150 West Street, presently managed by the Dummerston Community Center.
Loomis, A. C., & Manix, F. W. (Eds.). (1990). Dummerston: An “Equivalent Lands” Town 1753-1986. The Dummerston Historical Society