“…a Free Public Library and Reading-room for the use and enjoyment of all the inhabitants [of Holden]….”
In 1888, Samuel C. Gale and his wife, Susan Damon Gale, presented the people of Holden with a beautiful custom-built stone library and its land in the center of town. Still standing and thriving in its original purpose, the building is named the Damon Memorial in honor of Susan’s family. The institution within is known as the Gale Free Library.
The Gales’ deed of gift establishes “In trust forever hereafter…a Free Public Library and Reading-room for the use and enjoyment of all the inhabitants for the time being of said town, and of such other persons as said town for the time being shall, by general rule or special permit allow to use the same….”
The deed further provides that a portion of the building shall temporarily serve as a public high school, until a dedicated building for that purpose can be built (as happened in 1926).
The Gales’ magnificent gift comes with a number of conditions intended to guarantee that the building, grounds, and library be maintained and continue to serve the people of Holden in perpetuity. The document specifies that “upon the failure of the grantee to carry out and perform all and singular the terms, conditions and stipulations mentioned in this deed, the title to the real estate herein conveyed shall revert to the grantors and their heirs.”