Written by Janet Gregware
posted on January 13, 2018 12:32
Editor’s note: On October 12, 2017, Richard Macsherry died peacefully at his home in Mount Dora Florida; he was 99. Since his death, many organizations paid tribute to this gentleman with heartwarming stories about the impact he and his wife Mary left on many areas in the Thousand Islands. The following article, written by Janet Gregware, describes a tribute that will last forever in Alexandria Bay. Few gifts have meant as much to so many.
On a Fall evening in 1995, the Holland Library received a generous and unexpected gift. Richard and Mary Macsherry announced to the Board of Trustees that they would like to fund a new library, for the Village of Alexandria Bay with a donation of $250,000.
The Macsherry’s interest in the library began almost 100 years before with the establishment of the Holland Library by the family’s ancestor, J. G. Holland. Holland started the first circulating library in the village. He believed “…in the great power of libraries to promote culture and elevate the thought of people.” The Macsherrys wanted to continue this vision.
Soon the plan took shape. The Macsherry’s collaborated with the Village Board to obtain land for the building on outer Walton Street and contacted Rick Tague, of Bernier and Carr, to create plans for the new structure. The original plan was for a 2800 square foot building that would provide a large space for book stacks, a children’s room, media room, restrooms, office space and storage. Bids were put out in May 1996 and awarded in June to local contractors 34 and Co. All of the work on the Macsherry Library was completed by local businesses. Groundbreaking was held in July 1996, with construction to take about six months to complete.
On Saturday, January 25, 1997, volunteers from the Alex Bay community helped relocate over 15,000 books and library materials from Market Street to the new Macsherry Library. The library opened on February 4, with shelving and furniture from the old building. Landscaping was added in the summer of 1997, and a grand opening ceremony was held with the Macsherry family. In October 1997, the Macsherry Library was awarded the Improvement Recognition Award by the North Country Library System for the building project, acquisition of computers, and computer classes.
Over the next few years, with the Macsherry family continuing to donate substantial funds, and with fundraising by the Library Board, the Macsherry Library grew to meet the needs of the community and the growth of technology. A 1,000-square foot addition was built in 2001 to enlarge the computer room, adding a reading area and two meeting rooms.
A local artisan, Mark Sears, built bookshelves for all the stacks and a magazine rack for the reading room. New furniture was purchased, and another celebration was held in July, to thank Dick and Mary Macsherry for their continued support. As the need has grown so has the support of the family. They have continued to fund projects, which added additional space and resources for the citizens of the Alexandria Bay community.
By Janet Gregware
Janet and her children, Molly and Eric, were frequent patrons of the Holland Library. In 1986, she began facilitating the Summer Storyhour Program. She soon joined the Board of Trustees and was President when the Macsherrys offered their gift of a new building. Janet remained on the Board for 15 years, helping to lead the transition from the Holland Library to the Macsherry Library. She now lives in Clayton, with her husband Rick and son, Andrew. Janet is also an educator in the Indian River School District where she has taught Kindergarten, first, second, and third grade students for 45 years.