FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2017
Peter Michaud, N.H. Division of Historical Resources
Conway Public Library named to National Register of Historic Places
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is proud to announce that Conway Public Library has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places, both for its architecture and its role as a center for learning.
The Conway Women’s Club petitioned the state to organize the Conway Library Association as a “voluntary corporation” and founded Conway’s first library in 1895, the same year that legislation passed requiring all New Hampshire towns to establish free public libraries unless voted down by the community at town meeting. Built just a few years later, Conway Public Library has served as a center of learning and a source of community identity for Conway for more than 100 years.
Specifically designed to be fireproof when it was built in 1900, Conway Public Library’s granite foundation, brick exterior, brownstone windowsills and portico help define it as a Neoclassical building, a popular style at the turn of the last century. A 2003 addition echoes the features of the original building.
The library’s prominent exterior feature is a large clock tower that has gables above each of the four clock faces and a copper domed roof. The clock itself was made by noted clockmaker George M. Stevens.
Alterations to the original building are few and the floor plan had changed little over time. Quarter-sawn oak paneled wainscot, embellished oak trim, oversized door openings and stained glass window transoms are still in place. A vestibule, reading room, alcove, stock room and other areas are evident, as is a cabinet that displayed taxidermy and other collections relating to natural history.
Conway Public Library architect Thomas William Silloway was a minister who turned to architecture full-time in 1867. He focused primarily on designing religious buildings and had commissions in the midwest, south and every New England state. While his high-profile projects included the Vermont State House, records indicate that Conway Public may be the only library he designed.
Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.
Listing to the National Register does not impose any new or additional restrictions or limitations on the use of private or non-federal properties. Listings identify historically significant properties and can serve as educational tools and increase heritage tourism opportunities. The rehabilitation of National Register-listed commercial or industrial buildings may qualify for certain federal tax provisions.
In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).
For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact Peter Michaud at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.
New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archaeological, architectural and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among its most important environmental assets. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit nh.gov/nhdhr or call 603-271-3483.