[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 146 (2000), Part 18]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages 26661-26662]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 14, 2000

  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I wish to call to the attention of our 
colleagues the Centennial

[[Page 26662]]

of the Thrall Library in Middletown, N.Y. On January 12, 2001 the 
Middletown Thrall Library will celebrate 100 years of service to our 
  The Thrall Library was first constructed at the turn of the century 
with funds donated by Mrs. Sabra Maretta Thrall. Mrs. Thrall gave the 
City of Middletown $30,000 with the instruction that the money was to 
be used to build a public library. It was important to Mrs. Thrall that 
all residents have access to the library and that it remains open to 
the public.
  At the time Mrs. Thrall made her donation, Middletown was a thriving, 
vital railroad center in the midst of rich, productive farm land. 
Stately mansions sprang up in Middletown as a result of the fortunes 
which were made in the boom economy brought about by the explosion in 
industry and transportation which touched most parts of our nation. 
Mrs. Thrall was a widow whose late husband had made his fortune as a 
grocer, both in Middletown and in New York City.
  Although Mrs. S. Maretta Thrall was a private person, it can be 
deduced that her generosity may have been inspired by Andrew Carnegie, 
the man who became a millionaire in the steel industry and who donated 
millions of dollars to construct libraries in over 1,400 communities 
throughout the United States.
  Mrs. Thrall's obituary was published on July 7, 1897. She was about 
65 years of age at the time of her passing, and was a widow preceded in 
death not only by her husband but also by her only brother and only 
child. Her obituary stated that she had ``a naturally bright and sunny 
disposition, and was surrounded by friends.'' The obituary went on to 
say that she could not enjoy her fortune because ``disease laid its 
stern hand upon her.''
  Prior to her death Mrs. Thrall had left money and land to the City of 
Middletown for what were known as Thrall Hospital and Thrall Park. The 
provisions for the Thrall Library were included in a codicil to her 
will. The library was built on a city owned lot on Orchard Street.
  Now a century old, the Thrall Library has made a great amount of 
progress throughout the years. When its doors first opened it was 
simply just a quiet place to research and read. However, the Thrall 
Library has evolved into so much more. It is now a resource center for 
the community. The library houses meeting rooms for local groups to 
gather at. As well, the library has instituted a number of programs for 
children to take part in. Located at the library are several computers 
that provide free Internet services to its patrons. Often, we fail to 
realize just how important our libraries are, and how much they offer.
  On February 13, 1995, the Thrall Library officially opened for 
business at its new location, the olde Erie Railroad Station at 11-19 
Depot Street in Middletown--just a few steps from its original building 
on Orchard Street. In this modern, new location, the Thrall Library 
prepared to meet the challenges of the communications and education 
explosion which would usher in the new millennium.
  Public libraries are extremely important to our communities. They 
enlighten and enrich all of the patrons that choose to take advantage 
of the vast resources that they have to offer. Public libraries educate 
all walks of life, and stand as a common ground for all those who want 
to learn. S. Maretta Thrall realized this.
  Today's libraries work hard to reach out to the cultural, social, and 
educational needs of their patrons. The Thrall Library is constantly 
looking for new ways to aid our community. With over seventeen thousand 
card holders to date, the number of members continues to rise.
  In 1983, I had the honor of placing the Thrall Library on the list of 
Federal Depository Libraries. Since then, Thrall Library has been one 
of two libraries in my Congressional District to be provided with all 
federal government publications.
  In honor of their 100th anniversary and all of the great work that 
the Thrall Library has achieved over the years, the members of the 
library plan to commemorate this milestone event throughout the coming 
  This momentous occasion will be celebrated by the good people of 
Middletown, N.Y. with a series of events. An illustrated history of the 
library is being compiled and will be published as a journal. The 
Library is also planning to allot each month of the year 2001 a 
different theme, drawing patrons to the library for a variety of 
celebrations. While honoring their years of service, the library will 
also be honoring the community and all of its members.
  As we celebrate this centennial, we especially salute and thank the 
current Board of Trustees of the Thrall Library: Ms. Marlena F. Lange, 
President; Mr. Richard Bell, Vice President; Mr. Ralph Russo, 
Secretary; Mrs. Gertrude Mokotoff; and Mr. Stephen Shaw. We also salute 
and thank Mr. Kevin Gallagher, the current library Administrator.
  The work that is being done by the Thrall Library and other public 
libraries like it throughout the country is amazing. Thrall has been 
bringing its patrons together and enriching their lives for a century. 
We are proud of the significant strides made by such this great 
  Mr. Speaker, some of the fondest memories of my younger life were 
days and nights spent reading at the Thrall Lilbrary. While our society 
has changed in many ways since those years, one thing which has 
remained constant is the constant quest for knowledge, the insatiable 
curiosity, which motivates all of our young students. It is to them 
that we dedicate the centennial of the Thrall Library, with the promise 
of much greater knowledge to come in the future.
  One of our nation's founding fathers, the architect of our 
Constitution who went on to serve as our fourth President, James 
Madison, once stated: ``Learned institutions ought to be favorite 
objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public 
mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous 
encroachments on the public liberty.''
  As the 100th anniversary of the Middletown Thrall Library approaches, 
let us recall these words of James Madison and appreciate the national 
treasure which is our public library system.