Bethany Library History

In 1800, Jason Torrey named the town of Bethany, which was to become the first county seat for Wayne County. Torrey was a land agent for Henry Drinker, an entrepreneur from Philadelphia, who owned several thousand acres in what was then the wilderness of northeastern Pennsylvania.. One of Drinker's early enterprises was maple sugaring, for which Wayne County gained some renown. The U.S. Census of 1810 reported that Bethany had 72 families- 443 white persons and one black slave. Over the next twenty years, the town grew to almost 800 people, but there was competition with the nearby town of Honesdale as to which town would be the seat of county government. In 1841 the honor of being the county seat was transferred to Honesdale, which was becoming rapidly prosperous with the building of the D & H (Delaware & Hudson) Canal.

The brick and concrete building which houses the Bethany Library was built in 1823 to contain the records of the local courthouse and county officials. It was originally known as the Vault, or the Fireproof Building, as a previous courthouse and jail had burned to the ground. The University of Northeast Pennsylvania existed in Bethany until 1857, and incorporated the Fireproof Building into its campus when the county seat moved to Honesdale.The University was destroyed in a fire in 1857 and was never rebuilt. The Fireproof Building and land was given to the Borough of Bethany. Several groups have met there over the last almost 160 years, including the Masonic Lodge, the Bethany Woman's Club, Bethany Men's Club, the Bethany Historical Society and the Bethany Borough.

The years were not kind to the Fireproof Building, though, and it fell into neglect until Mrs.John H. Strongman initiated a restoration of the building in 1935, enhancing its original architecture. Mrs. Strongman established the library with an original collection of 2928 books and the library was dedicated in 1936.

JOIN US AT THE BETHANY LIBRARY ON SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2016, FROM 1 - 4 P.M. TO CELEBRATE ITS 80TH BIRTHDAY!!! EVERYONE IS INVITED FOR AN AFTERNOON OF OLD-FASHIONED GAMES, HISTORICAL REMEMBRANCES, REFRESHMENTS AND FUN!!