Wadsworth Library rich with history

Known to many as “Geneseo’s hidden treasure,” Wadsworth Library—built in 1867—stands today as one of the town’s most prominent features. In 1977, the public library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of its greatest accolades to date. The building—which is a two-minute walk from the iconic fountain on Center Street—welcomes patrons from both the town and the campus. Senior clerk and long-time employee Cindy Costa noted how the library plays an active role in the Geneseo community through programs such as Summer Reading, Friends of Wadsworth Library and their volunteer base, which consists of over 60 individuals.

According to Costa, the Wadsworth Library was built with the support of the Wadsworth family as part of an initiative to “settle the land.” Architect C.N. Otis of Buffalo designed the beautiful Italian-style building alongside the Geneseo School and various churches. A second-floor gallery was added to the building in 1883. After careful consideration, a new wing was added to the building in 1996, which now stands as the children’s wing next to the circulation desk.

The library’s valuable artifacts and artwork sets it apart from most. One of the more impressive relics is a calendar clock from 1862. The clock displays the time, day of the week and year behind the circulation desk. At the library’s entrance stands a statue—given to them in 1869 –bearing the words “Theseus Slaying the Centaur Bianor.” It’s an original bronze by renowned French artist Antoine-Louis Barye. The statue is one of three castings of “Theseus Slaying the Centaur,” with its two counter-parts at the Louvre in Paris and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

Landscape paintings and framed letters—including two letters written by George Washington—add culture to the library walls, creating a unique and engaging environment for patrons of the library.

Among the quintessential works of art, the library’s vast array of public programs offers patrons and guests alike an opportunity to explore the library. The Friends of Wadsworth Library aids in the implementation of programs such as Summer Reading, Book Delivery, Adopt-A-Shelf and more. Open to the public, programs like these help the library foster an active relationship with the Geneseo community through volunteers and participants.

Costa added that the library has become a wonderful place over the last 30 years.

“People come in here because they want knowledge, help, questions answered,” she said. “It’s rewarding to send them out the door with the things they come in for.”