It’s no secret that Winchester is full of history. And one piece of that history is more than a century old, sitting elegantly in Old Town Winchester, full of charm, majesty … and books.
The Handley Library, a large, enchanting Beaux-Arts style building, was brought to life after Pennsylvanian judge John Handley, who admired and visited Winchester often, left $250,000 in his will to the City of Winchester. The money was given to the city to be invested until it reached $500,000, when it would then be used, according to the will, to “ … open a Public Library for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester forever.” Construction on the library began in 1907 and finished in 1910. Filling the new library with furniture, staff members and books took some time after that; it was finally able to open a few years later, after Charles Vernon Eddy became its first librarian. Eddy received his training at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He wanted the library to be an open-stack model, where library members browse books themselves (as the library is today), versus the more common closed-stack library model.
Winchester had eagerly awaited the library’s opening, and citizens were lined up on the streets on its opening day – August 22, 1913.
After becoming a regional library in 1979, The Handley Regional Library System now includes two other libraries: The Clarke County Library in Berryville, and the Mary Jane & James L. Bowman Library in Stephens City.
In 1979, an addition was added to the building, followed by a complete renovation in 2001. Today, the historic building stands invitingly, ready to welcome book – and history – lovers of all ages.
The Handley Library is located at 100 West Piccadilly Street in Winchester. It can be reached at (540) 662-9041.