A prominent building on Main Street, the Gordon-Nash Library, is a familiar sight for New Hampton citizens and our school community. It appears in archived pictures familiar to our students and faculty alike. The Gordon-Nash Library was the only privately funded, public library in the state of New Hampshire. On January 1, 2020, the library officially merged with New Hampton School, to be owned and operated by the school as a shared-use facility. According to the judge’s will, as written in the original library documents, the library will now serve the New Hampton School community and the surrounding local community.
With the merger now complete, today’s students are learning the history of the building, its founders and namesakes, and have the potential to learn more from its archives, local history documents, and volumes from Judge Nash’s personal collections. And in the months ahead, our community will revisit and expand upon the vision for our Academic Research Center [ARC]. With the freedom to move it’s library functions and many volumes to the Gordon-Nash, the concept of the ARC as a center of creativity and innovation can be thoughtfully reimagined.
Welcoming the Gordon-Nash Library
The reintroduction of the Gordon-Nash to our community will take place over several months. The doors are open, circulation continues, and popular programs remain in place. New Hampton School has taken over ownership, and in agreement with the merger, will follow Judge Nash’s vision to be open to all residents, students, and sojourners. Our students, too, utilized the Gordon-Nash Library for many years before the construction of the ARC (1996-1997).
The Library and the School share a rich history. Judge Nash graduated from New Hampton School at the age of 16, and from Dartmouth College in 1842. He briefly returned to New Hampton School to teach the classics before he began his law career in the Boston area. Though Judge Nash passed away before the library doors opened in 1896, his legacy has generously contributed education, literature, history, and a place of community to the lives of many visitors.
Among the opportunities the merger provides is also the chance to be good neighbors with the town’s many library patrons. Through children’s programs, even prior to the merger, students have volunteered in their free time to assist young children with reading and the Lego Club. The library will further develop its successful children’s program this summer. Additionally, future program ideas include a home for New Hampton Schools’ writing center and service-learning program, which collaborates with many local organizations.
Renewed Vision for the ARC
With much of Research Center’s main level recentralizing to the Gordon-Nash Library over the coming summer, the administrative teams on campus have revisited the vision for the ARC. How can this space continue to best support our student-centered community?
The ARC’s original goal was to encompass a new library, technology headquarters, college resource suite, headmaster’s office, and classrooms. Fitting together new ideas in this framework and in light of the strategic plan, the New Hampton School 2021 Difference, has generated lots of innovative discussions. The open spaces of the main-level within the ARC presents many possibilities to be explored in the months ahead.
In the background of this change continues the school’s preparation for its Bicentennial in 2021, while the Gordon-Nash Library will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Unifying a beloved town resource and the school at this milestone provides an important time to reflect on history, honor our community, and imagine new possibilities ahead. And, yet, among this feeling of celebration also lies the air of change and becoming part of a greater whole. We look forward to the challenge of building meaningful programs for our students while also supporting the needs of our neighbors and engaging with them in new ways.