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The current Southold Library is the third library that has served the community. This stately brick building was originally built in 1891 to house the Southold Savings Bank. In 1925, the bank needing more space, built another building down the street and put this structure up for sale. Thanks to Edna Cahoon Booth, who purchased the building, the Southold Free Library, finally had a home to call its own.

Southold Library in its previous incarnation as the Southold Savings Bank c 1925

Southold Library in its previous incarnation as the Southold Savings Bank c 1925

The earliest library in Southold was started in 1797, but disappeared from the community by 1860. Compared to a modern library, it was tiny, small enough that it fit into small case in the front hall of the local Postmaster's home.

The second library, a branch of the Southold Lyceum Association was formed in 1871. Patrons of the library had to pay a yearly fee or books could be rented for a week for five cents per volume. By 1896, the library had become a too much for the Lyceum to administer and it was dissolved. The third library was started as a collaborative effort between Lucy Hallock and Rev. William Murray of the First Universalist church in 1904. The pair collected subscriptions from residents, and in a meeting at Belmont Hall, formed the Southold Free Library Association. The Southold Free Library’s original home was on the Main Road in the home of Valentine Heubel (the site is now the Southold Pharmacy). In 1909 the library received its New York State charter, and had outgrown its space in the Heubel home. It then moved around the corner to the Hawkins building on Beckwith Avenue in 1920. 

In 1925 Edna Cahoon Booth, purchased the old Southold Savings Bank, renamed the building the Cahoon Memorial building and gifted it to the Southold Free Library. She paid $16,500, for the sturdy brick building which had been used as a bank for thirty-four years.   The building was enlarged to triple its size in 1990. In 2019, the structure underwent a renovation and sensitive facelift, which has kept the exterior character of the building while updating and modernizing the interior.  

Antiquities, Society for the Preservation of Long Island's. Historic House Inventory - Southold Town. Survey for New York State , unpublished, 1976-1987.

Clancy, Patricia. "Southold Library Expansion Under Way." The Suffolk Times, May 12, 1990.

Fleming, Geoffrey K. Images of America Southold. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Sander, Samuel, updated by Antonia Booth. The Story of Southold's Libraries. Southold, New York: Southold Free Library, 1997.

Southold, Town of. "Southold Town Records." unpublished , 1981.

Suffolk Times. October 4, 1990: C13.

Terry, Becky. "Southold Library Nostalgia." The Peconic Bay Shopper, November 7, 1990: 3.

"Town Historian's Files." Town Historian's Office, Southold, New York , n.d.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Town of Southold Historic Photograph Collection