The earliest libraries in Stowe were subscription or membership libraries as was popular in the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1866, the Stowe Free Library was founded with a donation of 51 books from a group of visiting summer artists and supplemented by a town appropriation of $100. Stowe was the first town in Vermont to appropriate a sum of money for library purposes under the state law of 1865.
After occupying several locations in the village, the library finally found a real home in the “new” town hall, the Akeley Memorial Building, in 1904. Seventy-seven years later, the library moved to the renovated old High School building at the corner of Pond and School Street.
The beautiful classic Greek Revival building where the library is now located was built as a school for Stowe children in 1863. Eventually used exclusively for upper grades, the building was abandoned in 1974 when a new High School was constructed at a location away from the center of town. Thanks to a bequest from Helen Day Montanari and the diligent work of local preservationists, the building, once known as “Old Yeller,” was restored in 1981 to house the Stowe Free Library and the Helen Day Art Center. A major addition to the building was completed in 1994 through local support and a modest interior renovation was made to the library in 2002 through a grant from the Freeman Foundation of Stowe.
The library is operated as a municipal department of the Town of Stowe and, as such, is about 90 percent tax-supported with the remaining income from endowment interest, fees, fines, gifts, and the proceeds from our annual book sale.