Information on:

Alvah North Belding Library

302 East Main Street
616-794-1450

History:

Belding's first public library was organized in 1890 by a group of civic-minded women who were members of the Ladies Literary Club. A meager collection of books, some from personal libraries and some purchased from funds raised through strawberry festivals, 25¢ suppers and subscription drives was housed in a room above a store on west Main Street. It is believed George Stout, a Civil War veteran, was the first librarian and with a high school student, Gerald Kimberly, as his assistant. When the disastrous fire of 1893 swept Main Street, the library was destroyed along with several other businesses. The library was soon reinstalled in a room over Connell's Drug Store on the north side of Main Street between Pleasant and Pearl streets and then later in an upper room at City Hall at which time a library board was appointed and $400 budgeted for books and magazines. In 1914, upon a suggestion of local businessman Byron Brown, Alvah N. Belding of the Belding & Bros. Company, Silk Manufacturers, decided to give a library to the City of Belding. On March 21, 1917, the Belding City Council accepted his offer and agreed to maintain the building in like beauty and form as a library for all time.

Mr. Belding selected the architectural firm of Frank Allen & Sons of Grand Rapids, Michigan and construction began in April of 1917. The site chosen was an area Mr. Belding had helped clear of timbers when purchased by his father in 1855. Built at a cost of $50,000.00, the 51 ft.X 80 ft. building is of early Greek classical design. The Ionic columns, continuous frieze keystone arches above the entrance and Palladian style windows give the building a look of beauty and elegance. At Mr. Belding's insistence, only the best building materials were used as is evidenced by the Indiana Bedford cut limestone on the exterior, the Spanish tile roof, the granite front entrance steps, the top notch oak, white pine and cypress used for the woodwork and window sashes and the Vermont Verde antique marble used in the lobby and at the base of the pilasters of the library interiors.

The building was dedicated in memory of Mr. Belding's parents, Hiram and Mary Wilson Belding, and presented to the city on May 14, 1918.  Large crowds gathered for the elaborate dedication ceremonies; business places and industries closed in honor of the occasion. As Alvah N. Belding was ill, his son, Frederick N. Belding presided over the ceremony. When approving the building design, Mr. Belding thoughtfully included a clubroom, neatly furnished on the lower level for use by the Ladies Literary Club. This group continues to this day to meet at the library.

The library is a well-known and appreciated historical landmark. It is unique in that it is the only building built in Belding by the Belding family still being used for its original purpose. The chandelier that now hangs in the library's main lobby originally hung in the Hotel Belding. The library was granted designation as a State Historic Site in 1980 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May, 1993.



Alvah North Belding Library is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media

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