Handley Library

Handley Library, W Piccadilly Street, Winchester, VA

Handley Library, W Piccadilly Street, Winchester, VA

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Handley Library

Today we continue our visit to Winchester, Virginia. In the last post we looked at the renovated Taylor Hotel on the pedestrian mall of Loudoun Street. A short walk away is the Handley Library. The library is named for its benefactor, John Handley.

John Handley was born in County Wexford, Ireland in 1835. He emigrated with his family to the United States becoming a citizen in 1850. Handley studied law in Washington, DC, where he worked in the administration of President James Buchanan. He later moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania where he set up law practice, later becoming a judge.

Although he never lived in the city, Handley visited Winchester a number of times, admiring it in part for its Scottish-Irish heritage. When he died in 1895 be bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the city. This $1.6 million bequest was to be used “for the education of the poor”. One specific portion of his estate, $250,000, was to be used to “…open a Public Library for the free use of the people of the City of Winchester forever.” The remainder of the estate was to be put into a trust for 20 years accumulating interest after which it was to be used to build schools. The trust was governed by the Handley Board of Trustees which was created by an act of the Virginia legislature in 1896.

Handley Library, W Piccadilly Street, Winchester, VA

Handley Library, W Piccadilly Street, Winchester, VA

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

The Handley Trustees hired New York architects J. Stewart Barney and Henry Otis Chapman to design the library building. This Beaux-Arts designed structure is constructed to be fireproof and was considered ahead of its time when opened in 1913. It was designed to resemble an open book. The dome represents the spine and the wings the book covers. The total cost of construction plus all the furnishings was $233,230. It now serves as the main branch for the City’s library system.

Now known as the Handley Regional Library, it was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in September 1969, and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in November 1969. It is also designated a contributing property to the Winchester Historic District, which has a separate listing on the NRHP.

Summary
Handley Library
Article Name
Handley Library
Description
The Handley Library in Winchester, VA was built in 1913. It's designed to resemble an open book. The dome represents the spine and the wings the book covers
Author
Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
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