Melissa Dickinson Memorial Library
The Melissa Dickinson Memorial Library is an example of Masonry Vernacular Architectural style. Construction completed in 1919, the library building was a gift from Albert and Emma Dickinson in memory of Albert's sister, Melissa, who was an honored resident of Orange City. The adjacent street, Albertus Way, was named after Albert Dickinson as it was a new street at the time the library was being built. The firm of J.H. Bates and Sons was the contractor for the new library building.
Backstory and Context
148 Albertus Way the site of the Melissa Dickinson Memorial Library constructed in 1919 is an example of the Masonry Vernacular architectural style with influences of the Mission architectural
style. The foot print of the building is irregular with a cross-hip roof covered with Ludowici-Cellandon tile of a Spanish pattern. The brick chimneys are tapered with caps and the rafters have carved ends. c The exterior walls are constructed with Dennison interlocking tiles and finished with cement stucco. At the entrance foyer there is a curved terracotta panel incised with “Dickinson Memorial Library”. A parapet projects above the roof and displays cresting of terracotta with a circular final.
The firm of J.H. Bates and Sons constructed the building with members of J.H. Bates, William Keown, Conrad O'Neill and E.S. Corson. The firm was also constructing the house at 344 North Oak Avenue at the same time as they were building the library.
It could be said that the Orange City Library Association began in 1876 with a group of women meeting in their homes to do handiwork. While they worked, a person would read aloud; it was usually Mrs. Helen Freeman reading as she always brought a book with her. At one of the meetings she requested that everyone bring a book to loan to the next meeting. Thus began the origins of the Orange City Library.
It wasn't until 1879 that the books found a home at the DeYarman Hotel marking the formal organizations of the Orange City Library Association. In 1880, a constitution and by-laws were adopted for a period of 99 years. Mr. A.L. Wellman was the first president and the books were later kept in his store on East Graves Avenue.
In 1884, the books again moved to the drugs store of Dr. Philip W. Hill with members taking turns loaning out the books. Two years latter, the books were move to Dr. Allen's store. As the community grew, a small building was purchased from Dr. Hammond to house the books.
Then in 1892 , Miss. Mary Stillman provided a lot on the west side of Holly Avenue as the new home for the books. It is presumed that the building purchased from Dr. Hammond was moved to the newly donated lot on North Holly Avenue. In 1897, the books moved yet again. This time to the former Orange City Hotel that had been purchased by Miss Melissa Dickinson. She used her own finances to have the structure remodeled into a formal Hall and Library. She later gave the building to the Orange City Library Association. The upstairs of the building was made into an auditorium, while the downstairs was the library with a reading room. A good size dinning room, a fully equipped kitchen and large meeting room was designated for the free use by the women's Village Improvement Association. Gratefully, the building Melissa had donated and largely furnished survived the fire of 1908. When Melissa died in 1910, her absence in the community left a whole in the hearts of her family and friends.
In 1918, Albert and Emma Dickinson initiated plans to construct a new modern library south of the city park. Embarking on building a new library to replace Melissa's building, they contacted Mr. Francis Miller, a Deland architect to draw up plans for a new library. In May 1918, Miller delivered the plans to the Dickinson's. They hired J.H. Bates to supervise the construction of building. In 1919, at the cost of $20,000, the new library was complete. In December of that year, the library was dedicated in honor of Melissa Dickinson, the sister of Albert Dickinson, for her contributions to the betterment of City of Orange City and her unbounding love of the library.
LaFleur, J.(Ed.). (2000). Our Story of Orange City, Florida. Florida: Village Improvement Association, Inc.
Robb, E. (Ed.). (1966) Our Story of Orange City Florida. Florida: Village Improvement Association, Inc.
United States Department of the Interior National Park Service (2004).
National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet Orange City Historic District Orange City, Volusia County, Florida
Photo by Ted Marsolek
Photo by Ted Marsolek