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HISTORIC LANGHORNE LIBRARY / HISTORIC LANGHORNE ASSN. HEADQUARTERS

  Submitted and published in the Langhorne Ledger by Sally Valone of the Historic Langhorne Association      

  The first library in Langhorne was established by a decision of the Friends Meeting.  It was the natural beginning for an early Langhorne.  It was noted in the minutes of the Middletown Monthly Meeting on the third day of the seventh month 1691 that 23 books had been received from the printer and most of them were religious in nature.  The minutes also gave a list of names of those who could take the books home to be read.  By 1718, 300 books were circulating among the members of the Middletown Meeting.

  Later, in 1799, when the Borough was called Attleborough, 34 men and women signed a petition to charter a library for the Quaker village.  Three years later Governor Thomas McKean issued a charter to the Attleborough Library Company on March 24, 1802.  The books had been kept in private citizen’s homes, and on shelves of the general store. The books were moved into a small house next door to the Richardson House in the center of the village. It became the library when the firehouse moved to Bellevue Avenue.

  When the borough name was changed from Attleborough to Langhorne in 1876, the library became the Langhorne Library.  Twelve years later – in July 1888- ground was broken for the red brick Gothic-style Victorian building which stands at 160 W. Maple Avenue.  Miss Anna Mary Williamson, niece of Isaiah VanSant Williamson, noted Quaker philanthropist, willed to three library trustees the sum of $12,000 for the purchase of the site and the construction of a library building. The building’s bricks were manufactured in Langhorne and the elaborate rose-detailed rosette inserts were purchased in nearby Philadelphia.  The interior woodwork, handmade from Chestnut wood, remains in its natural state. The will states the entire $12,000 must be spent which was a challenge to the builders and trustees, necessitating extravagant spending for that era.  As a result the library was illuminated by electricity, making it the first public building in Bucks County to be illuminated by electricity.

    In 1960 the name was changed to the Langhorne-Middletown Library and the four small boroughs – Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Penndel and Hulmeville – joined the Middletown Township to support it as a free public library. In 1962 the first structural change in the building that had been dedicated on November 9, 1889, was made by adding a small balcony constructed to add 551 square feet to the original 1500 square feet.  The library served the community for 90 years.  Because of the population growth in Middletown Township following the mid-fifties the need for a new building became apparent. After a merger of the Langhorne-Middletown Library and Bucks County  Free Library in 1971 the need for a new building was given priority and after 4 years of patient effort the Pennwood Branch of the Bucks County Free Library was built.

     In looking for an old picture of the building, it caused quite a stir when someone noticed a small building to the left of the main building which is not there today and no one remembers it being there. Research tells us the small building was on the neighbors property and not part of the library building.  

     The old library building became the headquarters of the Historic Langhorne Association by permission of Bucks County Commissioners in 1977.  In keeping with the Williamson Will a research library and museum is maintained and open to the public on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon and from 7-9 p.m.  Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m . Artifacts donated by local people are on display.  There is also a gift shop with interesting items for sale.  HLA has been busy researching, recording and preserving Langhorne history. If you are interested in genealogy we may have something in our archives you are looking for. If you have some memories of Langhorne, we would like to add them to our memory book.


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