Willey Hall

The first library in Cabot was founded in 1896. Books were kept in a store or home. The few books were easily moved to any convenient location. The need for new books was great, but there was little money and no place to keep large numbers. Ladies of the Judith Lyford Woman’s Club, which was founded March 6, 1912 with 12 members, saw the need for a town library and began to raise money. 

A former summer resident in Cabot, Charles A. Willey, while visiting during the 1916 Old Home Week celebration, offered to donate two dollars for every dollar they raised. The ladies took the challenge, and within a year raised $3,573.15. True to his word, Charles Willey gave them $7,646.36. With that incentive, Cabot residents donated more money, materials, and labor. Dr. Lester W. Burbank was named head of the building committee. He kept records in a notebook that is displayed in the Cabot Historical Society's Main Street Museum. On April 9, 1921, auditors Sheila and G. B. Currier balanced the Original Fund at $13,755.87, including $6.50 still unspent by L. W. Burbank. (Note: The money raised locally would be equivalent to over $76,000 in 2013; Mr. Willey's contribution would be about $164,000. Total cost of the building would be close to $300,000. )

A contract was let in 1920 for $13,000 to build a two-story, 72' by 36' library and town hall. Frank A. Walker of Montpelier was selected architect. B. L. Bruce of Cabot was general contractor. Lumber was milled in Cabot. 

At right is the building as it appeared in 1921, soon after it was built. Town offices were on the first floor, the library and the ladies’ meeting rooms that included a parlor, dining room and a kitchen were on the second floor, and on the third floor there was a large auditorium with a balcony and a stage. 1922: New Library Quarters for Cabot by Dr L. W. Burbank The books of the Cabot Public Library have recently been moved into the new Town Hall and Public Library Building. There are now in the library about 2500 live books. The building was made possible by the earnest and persistent efforts of the Judith Lyford Woman's Club. The active campaign for funds was commenced Oct. 12, 1916, when Mr C. A. Willey, a former resident of Cabot, offered to give two dollars for every dollar the women would raise before Oct. 12, 1917. At the last mentioned date, the club had raised $3573. To this fund Mr Willey added his check for $7646. On account of the war, building operations were not commenced until the spring of 1920. Interest on the original fund, and the money secured by the club during the five years following 1917, brought the total amount of approximately $19,000. The club was able to secure the services of six citizens who not only served as a building committee without pay, but paid their own expenses as far as travel, telephone and correspondence were concerned. The money was raised by soliciting from present and former citizens of Cabot; by entertainments and sales; by selling popcorn at public gatherings; and by having individual members of the club earn and donate a certain sum each year. The building is of wood, 36 by 72 feet, and has two stories and a basement. The basement has rooms for fuel, furnaces, men's toilet and a workroom. There are also two well lighted rooms, 17 by 32 in the front half of the basement. The main floor has a club room and dining room, each 17 by 32 and a large kitchen on one side of the corridor. On the other side are the coat room and ladies' toilet, also rooms for the library. The main library room is 17 by 32, and the children's room 12 by 15. The shelves are all on the walls of the rooms. The upper floor has a hall seating about 400 people. The stage and dressing rooms are in the front of the hall, the gallery and coat rooms in the back. The hall and corridors are finished in brown ash, the dining and club room in red brick and the library rooms including shelves are of beautiful native black cherry. Two large reading tables, the librarian's desk and the chairs are of mahogany. Mrs. Will D. Gould* off Los Angeles, formerly of Cabot, has given to the Woman's Club the sum of $1000 for the purchase of books concerning Vermont or written by Vermonters.       Goulds in California

********************************************************************************************************************            * WILL D. GOULD, Lawyer, was born September 17, 1845 at Cabot Vt. He is the son of Daniel and Betsa Smith Gould. He married June 26, 1875, Mary Louise Hait. Mr Gould received early education in the common and high schools of Cabot. He then attended the academies at St Johnsbury and Barre, Vt. He graduated from the University of Michigan, with the degree LL. B., in the class of 1871. He studied law in the office of Hon. Charles H Heath at Plainfield Vt., both before and after his law course at University of Michigan. He was admitted to the Bar by the Supreme Court of Michigan, April 4, 1871, in Detroit Mich., and was later admitted to practice at Montpelier, Vt., and in all the courts of California and in the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Gould located at Los Angeles, California, February 1872, where he continued active practice of law. He occupied offices in the Temple Block  for more than thirty seven years. Mr Gould served as sergeant in the militia of Vermont. He was elected and served as Superintendent of Public Schools of Cabot, the year after he became of age. Later, he was Principal of the High Schools at Passumpsic, Marshfield, and Plainfield Vt. Mr. Gould takes a deep interest in public affairs and advocates equal rights and equal morals for men and women. He is a total abstainer from intoxicating liquor and tobacco, having never used either. He is the author of Senate Bill No. 107, providing for uniform township government in California. He advocates non-partisan local elections, as practiced under uniform township and city government in Vermont. Mr. Gould is a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the Knights of Pythias, and a member of the Archaeological Institute of America Southwest Society. (1909)

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Mr. Willey died at his winter home in Pasadena, California, October 28, 1918, at age 60. He was President and Treasurer of C. A. Willey Co., of Long Island City, N.Y., manufacturers of automobile and carriage paints, colors, and varnishes, which he founded in 1890 and incorporated in 1905.

C. A. WILLEY'S FINE COACH COLORS ARE TO-DAY BEING used exclusively by a majority of the best Carriage and Coach Builders in the United States. They are absolutely of the very highest quality, and some of the special shades are exquisite. The demand for these colors is growing rapidly, as progressive manufacturers of carriages are looking for material of the best quality that can be procured at a reasonable price. A postal card will bring you information on this subject, which would surely be of value. Write to-day.

C. A. WILLEY, Hunter’s Point, L. I. CITY, N. Y.


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Mr. Willey became an expert carriage painter when still young. He started his career painting sleighs and wagons at the Cabot Carriage Co., in "the hollow" alongside the Winooski River, off Elm Street, in Cabot Village. He worked as a master painter in leading carriage factories in New England and New York City. He borrowed $2,000 from the Wiswells to start his own firm in New York. He never saw the building named in his honor.

The Judith Lyford Woman’s Club held their first meeting in the new building in 1921. During the next 50 years, the Willey Hall hosted plays, dances, and town meetings. The library flourished and Judith Lyford Woman's Club continued their good works, supporting the library and other community organizations with teas, raffles, food sales and Christmas bazaars.  The club dissolved in May, 1971 because dwindling membership made it ever harder to raise money to support their building. On April 16, 1974, the building was deeded to the Town of Cabot, with a condition that the town maintain and support the library and the building for general use and benefit of residents of  Cabot. 

Willey Memorial Hall remains a center for town activities. In 1966, extensive renovations were done at a cost of $300,000, to bring the building up to building code. The second floor library expanded to incorporate the room that had been the parlor of the woman's club. The room was updated with computers, new shelving, and space for events. There is still a small kitchen and abutting meeting room. The third floor has an auditorium for social and town functions. (Town meetings are usually held in the Cabot School gymnasium. The first floor gym is more accessible than the third floor auditorium in  Willey Memorial Hall.) Town offices are in the renovated first floor/basement area, where there are three offices, a large walk-in vault, and a small conference room, often used by the Cabot Select Board and other Cabot committees. The building is handicapped accessible; it has an elevator. It meets all fire and safety codes.   Willey Hall 2017