Akin Free Library
The Akin Free Library is one of three buildings on Quaker Hill built by the Akin Hall Association.
Akin Hall was built in 1880. It served as a community meeting space, and included both a library and kindergarten. Religious services were held in this building. It was a non-denominational church. In 1937, the building was moved to the Mizzen Top Hotel site and now stands as Christ Church on Quaker Hill.
The story of the library in Akin Hall begin shortly after the Akin Hall Association was formed; 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. The number of Library users also increased.
The Mizzen Top Hotel was opened in 1881. The Hotel was always a grand hotel, but it was a financial drain on the AHA, which struggled to make a profit on the hotel. Eventually the cost to maintain and improve the Hotel lead the Trustees to tear it down. It was torn down in 1934.
The Akin Free Library, corner stone was laid in August 13, 1898. Its doors opened in 1908 with a grand 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 country, 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.
The Library Building
The Akin Free Library’s building was designed by John A. Wood, the famed architect who also designed the 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, Admiral Worden, the Oblong Meeting House, Mizzen Top Hotel, and others; as well as an old coin and a copper cent ploughed on Kirby Farm; a specimen check from Pawling Bank and various postage stamps and other memorabilia.
In addition to housing the library’s collection, first Akin Hall then later the Akin Free Library were a central meeting place for Quaker Hill residents. The Akin Free Library is an architectural and cultural beacon for the community. Akin Hall was moved to its current site and remodeled as Christ Church of Quaker Hill. After a time, the Akin Free Library became the home of the Akin Hall Association.
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 the 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.