History of the Library

Founding the Library


    In the winter of 1889-1890, Martin M. Kellogg and his wife Fanny M. Hubbard died within three months of each other.  Martin and Fanny were originally from Barre and Montpelier, but lived in New York City, where they made a fortune in real estate.  The couple left $300,000 to the city of Montpelier to build a public library, and a gateway to the Green Mount Cemetery.

    John E. Hubbard, Fanny's nephew, successfully contested her will, and the City counter-sued.  After a bitter three-year battle in court, John Hubbard agreed to build a library for $30,000; one tenth of the original bequest.

    Building began in 1894, and by the summer of 1895, library was open for business, though it's official dedication did not happen until January 2, 1896.  The Library was built in the Classical Revival style using granite from Dummerston, Vermont.  The total budget for the build climbed to $60,000 before construction was complete.


    Local librarian Mary E. Macomber resigned as head of the rival Montpelier Public Library Association and took over at the Kellogg-Hubbard. In 1897 the MPLA merged its books with the Kellogg-Hubbard collection.

    John Hubbard died in 1899, and by 1903 his $125,000 bequest went to the library. With this funding, the library was open 48 hours per week; every day except Sundays and holidays.

KHL 1927 flood postcard.jpg


Floods have figured sadly in the Kellogg-Hubbard's history. The collection was practically destroyed in the great flood of November 1927. (Look for the brass disc near the adult circulation desk that marks the alarmingly high water line!)  The Library was closed November 3, 1927 to January 21, 1928 for clean-up and recovery efforts.


Sixty-five years later, in March 1992, Montpelier was hit with another flood caused by an ice jam on the Winooski River. The Children's Room, which was located in the basement, was flooded to the ceiling! The staff and helpful residents managed to save 20,000 books.

Did you know??

  • In WWII, the Library hosted the Vermont Council of Safety and became the local District Warning Center.

  • The Library has closed three times during pandemics: in 1917 during an outbreak of polio, in 1918 when Montpelier was hit by the Spanish Flu, and in 2020 in response to the spread of Coronavirus.  


Opportunity to expand

    After the 1992 flood, the Children's Room in the Library basement, suffered ongoing water problems and created an unhealthy environment for both children and staff.

    Elsewhere in the Library, book shelves were badly overcrowded, public reading areas needed to be expanded, and serious building code deficiencies demanded attention.

    In 1998, the library trustees had determined that a new addition must be built to accommodate the Children's Room, and major renovations and restorations were required in the existing building.

    The library learned that it would receive a large bequest from the estate of Frances Holmes of Montpelier. Miss Holmes had long wished to be a librarian, but the circumstances of her life prevented it. It could be said that this important bequest was her way of achieving her dream.

    From the start, the trustees determined that this "project of a hundred years" would be carried out with no false economies, but also with no unnecessary or unwise gilding. The original building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, had to be renovated in a way that retained all the warmth and elegance of its century-long tradition.

    With the assistance of its supporting towns, the City of Montpelier, federal grants secured by Senator Patrick Leahy, and the generosity of many private donors, local businesses and corporations, the project was launched.

    Construction began in May 2000. The fundraising committees, library trustees, architects, builders, library staff, and volunteers worked tirelessly on what was truly a labor of love.

In 2001, construction was completed. The inside of the library was returned to its original glory. The central skylight was re-opened, and the original woodwork and flooring were restored. The new Children's Library, on the second floor of the new Patrick Leahy Wing, was filled with light.

    Since then, the library has experienced a true renaissance. Over 750 people per day come through the doors to borrow books, to read in a beautiful setting, to access the Internet, to attend educational programs, or to introduce their children to the pleasures of a public library.


Did you know??

  • Look more closely at the bench near the sidewalk near School Street - it's really a Time Capsule!  The Time Capsule was buried in 1991 and won't be opened until 2091.


Before the Kellogg-Hubbard


In the 100 years before the Kellogg-Hubbard opened, Montpelier had several smaller libraries:

  • In 1794 there was a circulating library of 200 volumes on history, biography, and travel, but no fiction.

  • From 1814-1850, the Village Library Society offered a circulating collection.

  • Circa 1860-1880, the Agricultural Library circulated books and two reading rooms provided newspapers and magazines free to the public.

  • In 1885, the Montpelier Public Library Association was established, following fundraising by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. At first accessible only to stockholders, the 5,000-volume collection was free to the public by 1896. The YMCA rented space for the library in the Vermont Mutual Fire Insurance Company building.


Portions of this article were taken from: Where the Books Are: A History of Vermont Libraries by Patricia W. Belding; A New Chapter, the Library's Capital Campaign booklet, by Ed Day; and Dying Well in Montpelier by Cynthia Mills. Republished here with permission.