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Expanded library to be named for $1 million donors

Private contributions brings project halfway to capital campaign's goal

August 26, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Art Callaham, left, president of the Washington County Free Library board of trustees, signs a letter of acceptance as William P. Young Jr., right, signs a letter donating $1 million dollars on behalf of The Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation to the library's capitol campaign Wednesday night in downtown Hagerstown.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

The expanded Washington County Free Library downtown branch will be named after the late Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher, whose foundation is donating $1 million to the renovation and expansion project, library officials announced Wednesday at a fundraising reception.

That gift brings private contributions to the project halfway to the library's capital campaign goal of $3 million, campaign co-chair Jim Pierne told a crowd of about 100 guests at the "Turning the Page" event, held on the library's upper level.

The $3 million is needed to bridge the gap between the $21 million in public and library endowment funds committed and the $24 million project cost, library officials have said.

The project, expected to begin construction this fall, will double the size of the downtown library branch.

The Fletchers have a long connection to the library, Pierne said. Alice Virginia (Danzer) Fletcher was raised on the site where the library now stands, and she and David Fletcher later ran a hardware and flooring business there, he said. Washington County Free Library bought the property from the Danzer-Fletcher family in 1960, when the library outgrew its site on Summit Avenue, Pierne said.

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The Fletchers were known for their generosity, contributing to charities and to their church, Pierne said. David died in 1991 and Alice Virginia died in 2007.

"The Fletchers had really one goal in life, and that was to enable those who were in need to find those resources by which they could improve the quality of their lives," William P. Young Jr., executive director of the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, said after a ceremonial signing of a gift letter.

The project also has received contributions from the foundations of Agnita M. Stine Schreiber, Leonard P. Snyder, Michael G. Callas and William G. Porter, and support from the Rotary Clubs of Washington County, the Kiwanis Club of Hagerstown, Keller Stonebreaker Insurance, The Herald-Mail Co. and Antietam Cable, capital campaign co-chair John R. Hershey III said.

In addition, each of the library's Board of Trustees members has made individual pledges and more than half of the library staff have pledged to support the project, Hershey said.

Library officials thanked all of those donors as well as state, Washington County, and City of Hagerstown officials who helped secure funding for the project.

They also thanked Don and Jone Bowman, and Susquehanna Bank, who provided the library with good deals on leased space for temporary branches downtown and in North Pointe Shopping Center for the roughly two years that the library will be closed for renovation.

Many other companies and organizations also made generous offers for temporary branch space, library Board of Trustees President Art Callaham said.

Callaham urged others in the community to step forward to help the library reach its fundraising goal.

"We need to be at $3 million, and I know the community, as they have in the past, can get behind this 'great good place' and support it," Callaham said, invoking the campaign title, "Building our Great Good Place."

"The Great Good Place" is the title of a short story by Henry James and was adopted by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg for his concept of cafes, coffee shops and other hangouts that become the heart of a community.

"The theme reflects the mission statement of the library, committing us to 'be the 'third place' for Washington County citizens, where they want to be when they are not at home or at work,'" according to a campaign brochure.

Those who contribute $10,000 or more to the campaign will be invited to name rooms, zones, suites or features in the new library, according to a sign-up sheet displayed during Wednesday's event.

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