Akin Hall was built in 1880. It served as a community meeting space, and included both a library and kindergarten. It also served as a non-denominational church and religious services were held in the building. In 1937, the building was moved to the Mizzen Top Hotel site and now stands as Christ Church on Quaker Hill.
The Mizzen Top Hotel opened in 1881. The Hotel was grand and impressive but it was a financial drain on the Akin Hall Association as they struggled to make a profit on the hotel. Eventually the cost to maintain and improve the building lead the Trustees to tear it down in 1934.
The Akin Free Library started out shortly after the Akin Hall Association was formed, and was originally housed in Akin Hall. The AHA’s first executive director, Edward Ryder, established a library as one of his first acts in 1880. Within a year, the library had 227 circulating volumes, operating out of one of the front rooms of the Akin Hall. Soon it would grow to several thousand volumes and the number of Library users increased as well.
The corner stone to the building which is now home to The Akin Free Library was laid on August 13, 1898. Its doors opened in 1908 with a big celebration.
Reverend Warren Wilson, appointed librarian in 1899, described the collection at the time as “consisting of about three thousand books, selected with uncommon wisdom by committees of ladies through about twenty-five years,” and described its use as primarily being for “the Summer People”: the guests of the Dutcher House and Mizzen Top Hotel, along with other seasonal residents of Pawling.
Today, the Library no longer circulates books, but its collections can be used on site. The Library’s collections are focused on printed materials related to Quaker Hill and nearby communities, including Dutchess county, the Hudson River, Pawling, and the Oblong. In addition, the library contains printed matter relating to the Society of Friends, local authors and personal papers of notable Quaker Hill residents. Events and community socials are also held at Akin Free Library.
Click here to view a video containing a brief history on Akin Hall and Akin Free Library.
The Akin Free Library’s building was designed by John A. Wood, the famed architect who also designed Akin Hall and the Mizzen Top Hotel. A historic late Victorian eclectic design, the Akin Free Library features a copper cornice and clock tower that echoes many of Wood’s famous Revival designs.
The building’s cornerstone contained a time capsule consisting of photographs of Albert Akin and his wife Jane Williams, Admiral Worden, the Oblong Meeting House, Mizzen Top Hotel, and others; as well as an old coin and a copper cent plowed on Kirby Farm; a specimen check from Pawling Bank and various postage stamps and other memorabilia.
In 1991 the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation recommended to the Commissioner that the property known as the Akin Free Library be listed on the New York State Register of Historical Places and nominated to the National Register of Historical Places. As of result of this nomination, Akin Free Library was awarded a grant to restore the roof on the library under the leadership of then President of the Akin Hall Association, Mr. C. Ross Daniels.