Gordon-Nash Library came to New Hampton through the generosity of the late Stephen Gordon Nash of Boston. The library first opened in 1896 with Rev. Lewis P. Bickford serving as librarian. The library was then formally opened to the public on June 25th, 1906.
The will of Judge Nash expressed this purpose: “To establish a public library and reading-room in Smith’s Village, New Hampton, N.H., my native place, for the free use of the people of said town, whether residents, students, or sojourners.” The whole library was paid for by Judge Nash, in the total amount of $18,000, just before his death on May 1st, 1894. Mary Upton Nash should go down in memory side-by-side with that of her illustrious husband, for her devotion to the library.
Under the leadership of Rev. Lewis P. Bickford, the library maintained order and decorum and conserved the ideals of library management throughout the years.
During Rev. Bickford’s tenure, the books of the three literary societies – The Literary Adelphi, The Social Fraternity, and The German Dilectae Scientiae – were placed for safe keeping in the library.
Every year, valuable additions of new books have been made. In 1903, about $1,400 worth were purchased. By 1912, the total number of books available in the library was upwards of 15,000, including numerous magazines, pamphlets, and books of reference.
In 1960, the library was expanded to include the addition of children’s room, a reference reading room, and what now is the fiction section.
The largest expansion of nonfiction books came in 1970. Around that same time, the gallery was added, where art work is displayed, many meetings take place, and where the grand piano resides. Furthermore, Judge Nash’s personal collection of books was moved to special cases in the gallery.
Since the 1970’s, the library has continued to grow. A gift store was added in 2014 and regularly scheduled yoga classes were added to the weekly schedule of events. The library has also recently added more DVDs and Blue-rays, has hosted classical music concerts and speakers, and started the new telescope program.