By Derek M. Otto
The Concord Public Library was initially formed in 1878 when General John B. Wadsworth left $250 to the Village of Springville. The village used the money to start a public library. The small library was started in the back of Walter Blakeley’s book store, located in what is now Lulu Belle’s.
Around the time in 1879, the Gaylord family built an Opera House on Main Street, directly across from today’s Rite Aid. The Gaylord Opera House was lauded as the biggest Opera House in Erie County, with seating for 1,500. Very little was ever mentioned of the Gaylord Opera House in the local papers. The assumption is it operated for a brief time. On the 1886 Sanborn Map, the building was labeled “Skating Rink.” What we know is the leaders of the school and town took advantage of a great opportunity. The Griffith Institute and the Springville Public Library merged collections in 1880. Blakeley remained as the librarian until 1902.
In 1902, the school hired Lucy Bentley to be the librarian for both the school and the public library. She received a yearly salary of $175. In 1927, the Universalist Church gave their church building to the town for use as a library. The church, built in 1897, served the congregation until 1924, when the church folded. In a 1967 article, Bentley recalled the day they moved to new the library from the schoolhouse. “In 1928, we moved all of the books from the schoolhouse to the new library. The children were let out of school to help me move all the books. What a wonderful day that was.“ From other reports, we learned that students lined up from the old academy and schoolhouse library to the new library on Buffalo Street. It was a book brigade of students handing off books to each other and Miss Lucy organizing them in the library.
Bentley remained as school librarian and public librarian until 1941, when she severed ties with the school. Bentley retired in 1962 from the Concord Public Library. Several librarians were at the helm of the Concord Public Library until Annette Gernatt took over the job in 1982.
In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, it was evident that a new library was needed. With the passing of long-time Springville doctor Lynden Hulbert, the funds were available to build the new Hulbert Library. Originally the plans were to use the Hulbert house on Edgewood Drive as the new library. The location wasn’t considered adequate for the library and it was decided the proceeds of the sale of the house would go to the building of the new library on Chapel Street, just off Fiddler’s Green Park.
In 1994, the library moved to the new facility without the fanfare and fun of moving into the old library on Buffalo Street. Gernatt retired in 2013 and Bridgette Heintz has been serving as the Town of Concord Librarian since then.
General Wadsworth’s gift led to today’s library. In 2015, the library had a circulation of 67, 272 books and materials, and over 44, 356 patron visits.