The Harrison Public Library Association was incorporated in 1906 after the Wyonegonic Club, a ladies’ literary society, brought together two collections in the town. One had been stored in private homes and later at Bridgton Academy, while the other, established by the Temperance Reform Club, was kept in their building. The fire of 1907 destroyed the Reform Club building, where the library collection was housed, but fortunately the books were saved and then circulated from a private home. The Association members carried on their work, trusting a building dedicated to the sole purpose of the library was in the future for Harrison.
Daniel H. Caswell, Sr., a native of Harrison residing in Texas with a summer home near Crystal Lake, gave a parcel of land in the village and contributed $1,700 toward the total $3,500 cost of the building, with the condition that the “building might bear the name of the donor, as a tribute of honor to his generous character.” Additional donations and a loan helped finance completion of the work, and the Caswell Public Library was completed in 1908, although it wasn’t until 1947 that the Trustees legally made the name change of the corporation from Harrison Public Library Association to Caswell Public Library Association.
By 1998, the demands for services in the library were increasing, and it was clear more space was needed; the town of Harrison had outgrown the beautiful building that had served its citizens well for nearly a century. The Board of Trustees commissioned an architectural study for an addition and renovation of the existing facility. A renovation would have to include an elevator, accessible restrooms, proper bathrooms, a sewage system upgrade, and a solution for parking. Resolution of these issues plus the construction expense of adding on to the stone structure came to an estimated total cost in excess of one million dollars.
In 2002, the opportunity to purchase the existing Town Office building was presented to the Trustees. After architectural studies indicated the building would be well suited to serve additional children’s programs, adult reading areas, and computer stations, and would provide good access and an adequate sewage disposal system as well as improved parking, and after a fundraising consultant determined that the monetary goals were achievable, the decision was made to move the library.
The former Caswell Public Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and sold to local residents Averill and Christine Davis. The sale of the former town office building was finalized on January 8, 2004, and the name of the library officially changed to Harrison Village Library at the annual meeting in July. The new library opened for business on September 8. A Grand Opening Celebration was held on October 2, 2004, with Orpha Davis, the oldest library card holder, cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
–from Bicentennial History of Harrison, Maine, 1905-2005, compiled by Harrison Historical Society
Constitution and By-Laws
Harrison Village Library Constitution (2015)