Howland 150 Celebrates Public Library Milestone – Hudson Valley Press | Candle Made Easy

By Jennifer L Warren

BEACON – It’s a pretty strong trifecta.

The Howland Cultural Center, Howland Public Library and the Beacon Historical Society: They have individually left an indelible educational, cultural and social mark on their communities over the years. Now they will come together for the next six weeks to showcase and maximize their priceless connections and enduring contributions. Welcome: The Howland 150, a tribute to the 150-year influence of the Howland Cultural Center, a comprehensive tribute to Richard Morris Hunt’s 1872 architectural “Jewel of Beacon”.

Friday, the celebratory occasion, sponsored by Arts Mid-Hudson, began with an official, symbolic bell ringing at 5:00 p.m.—just as it did in 1872 when a large crowd gathered outside the Howland Cultural Center. After nostalgic tones, Denise Van Buren, Trustee and past President of the Beacon Historical Society, welcomed guests to the long-awaited celebration. Van Buren, who is also the 45th President General of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, pointed to the theme of “People Make Things Happen,” reminding everyone of the deep historical roots of the building they were all confronted with.

Left, Rep. Jonathan Jacobson shows the official proclamation of the Howland Cultural Center’s 150th anniversary. Center General Joseph Howland and Denise VanBuren, trustee and past president of the Beacon Historical Society.

“The Howlands left an important legacy that we’re celebrating today,” said the dynamic Van Buren. “It’s a place that bears her name and continues to thrive.”

These iconic Howland figures were philanthropists: General Joseph and Eliza Howland, who 150 years ago commissioned their brother-in-law Richard Morris (one of the leading architects of his day) to design the Howland Cultural Library’s ‘masterpiece’ a music room in their Howland Estate. In 1976 this library found a new home – its present one – at 313 Main Street in Beacon; while its original location was converted into what is now the Howland Cultural Center in 1979. Meanwhile, the Beacon Historical Society was founded around this time and made its home at 61 Leonard Street. All three places share a deep, special story embedded in a love of learning, books, history, community and hope that has formed an unbreakable piece of the Beacon fabric of strength, love and pride.

“During the pandemic shutdown, the biggest thing my kids missed was going to Howland Library,” said Yvette Valde’s Smith, lawmaker and first leader of the Latina minority in Dutchess County. “I’m thrilled that we’re in a place like Howland, which is a hub that connects people; those connections are books, printers, and the Internet and more, to knowledge and to friends.” The Beacon Fishkill lawmaker continued, “This place needs to keep growing; The Howland has always been a beacon of truth.”

Goldee Greene will provide musical entertainment during Friday's Howland 150 Celebration at the Howland Cultural Center.
Goldee Greene will provide musical entertainment during Friday’s Howland 150 Celebration at the Howland Cultural Center.

Another local politician, MP Jonathan Jacobson, was also present and presented his congratulations and a certificate commemorating this milestone event in the library’s 150th anniversary.

“Libraries are just so important to a community,” Jacobson affirmed. “This one is state of the art and that’s why everyone is so proud to be here today to celebrate it.”

City of Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou also made a few brief comments, eager to learn more about the historical roots — golden nuggets of these three interconnected, living cornerstones of his city. Some of these gems were provided by a living history segment as General Joseph came to life, clad in a maroon waistcoat, pinstripe pants and distinctive hat, addressing audiences with verbiage of his time and distinct mannerisms while capturing everyone’s undivided attention currently.

Friday’s event also included the official opening of the Howland Cultural Center’s current exhibition, “People Make it Happen,” a visual arts series with historical pictographs that tells the story of Beacon’s free public library while spanning literature, arts and culture celebrates. The pieces were carefully and passionately constructed by artists Donna Mikkelsen and Jean-Marc Superville Sovak, who pointed out, “These are the untold stories and unsung heroes” about the exhibition, which seeks to capture the sheer magic inherent in this priceless Beacon- library inherent.

“The library is where your dreams can come true,” said Dutchess County Legislator Giancarlo Llaverias. “We don’t need a machine for time travel, we just need books.”

Next on the Howland 150 schedule are two major events on Saturday 13 August: ‘Keeping the Books’ (highlights from librarians’ scrapbooks) from 12pm to 3pm at the Howland Public Library. Artist Donna Mikkelsen will then discuss her historical pictographs in the exhibition at a “Meet the Artist” session at the Howland Cultural Center from 3pm to 5pm.

To learn more about the upcoming Howland 150 events, running through September 21, 2002, log on to the websites of the celebrated three community partners: The Howland Cultural Center, the Howland Public Library and the Beacon Historical Society.

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