Late-Season Discovery: The Springs Library


SO I’M STILL HERE in Springs, a woodsy hamlet five miles north of East Hampton, Long Island, N.Y., thanks to the installation of a wood-burning stove that staves off the day when I have to turn off the water supply and return to the city.

In between honing my fire-tending skills and raking, raking, raking, I finally made it to The Springs Library in the 1851 Ambrose Parsons House, below. In nine years of owning a house just a mile down the road, I’d never managed to check it out.


It was closed the two or three times I tried to gain entry, and I imagined it full of dated, dusty volumes on sagging shelves.

Wrong! The library, which is not part of the Suffolk County library system but operated by the Springs Historical Society, was recently discovered to have a structural issue that required all books removed from the second floor. Then, questions of staffing and the need for a new state charter threatened the library’s existence. Alarmed, more than 100 people turned out for a community meeting a few weeks ago. Alarmed, I decided to make an overdue visit with a check for membership ($25).

Meanwhile, actor Alec Baldwin gave the Springs Library $5,000 to buy new books. So when I turned up there the other morning and finally found it open — it keeps regular but short hours, 10AM-noon most days — I was delighted to come away with the new Susan Orleans book (about libraries, coincidentally) and the new David Sedaris, and to discover that they had all six volumes of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s monumental memoir, and all four of his subsequent ‘Seasons’ series (I’ve read a few, and can now easily fill in the gaps).

Inside the building, which is on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with wood floors, resident dogs, geraniums on the window sills and an elderly woman who hand-wrote my name on an index card for each book I borrowed.


The library is part of the Springs Historic District, which consists of ten 19th century farmhouses, four barns, and several other vintage buildings. The historic district is notable for its complete lack of commercialism, tourist appeal or chic, which is what I love about it.


I’ve been in all the other buildings around its central green: the Springs Community Presbyterian Church (1882) for yoga classes and rummage sales, Ashawagh Hall (1884) for art shows and memorial services, and, once, the 1886 Charles Parsons Blacksmith Shop, above, normally locked up, for an avant-garde theatre production.


But most of the time, when I’ve gone to the Springs Historic District, it’s to get coffee and a bagel at the 1844 Springs General Store, above, where aging hippies can be found hanging out on the porch on weekend mornings.

From now on, this aging hippie can be found hanging out at the library. ##


About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in HAMPTONS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Late-Season Discovery: The Springs Library

  1. Cynthia Green says:

    So interesting! Perhaps a series on the libraries of the Hamptons or Upstate NY would be fun, there is no doubt a lot of history and great architecture there!

  2. melanie charnas says:

    Beautiful, Cara. Mazel Tov!

  3. Jenny M says:

    Beautiful photos & story….long may the library survive!

  4. Great that you’be got a stove! I had to replace mine in the studio as the old one got rusty
    and I broke the glass! Was really lost without it!
    Luckily managed to find a reasonably priced second hand one locally and just got it fitted last week! So cosy and perfect for my old damp stone stable that I’be
    converted as a studio

  5. says:

    Beautiful story of the Library and Springs. As a long time part time resident you have captured my favorite neighborhood. Thank you! XO. Patricia


  6. Steve says:

    Doesn’t seem like LI! Great shots!

  7. Charlotte says:

    Beautiful photos and a charming story, Cara! This reminds of the Lubec Memorial Library which I frequent in the summer. The children’s section is fabulous, with many stuffed animals (including a chicken!) of various sizes. The adult section is remarkably well stocked. There is always an art exhibit. They let me be librarian for a few hours once a week, and although I do not print the names of borrowers on index cards, I do get to use a rubber date stamp. This is hilarious and wonderful! Here’s to all our small country libraries!
    Splendid idea to research them all.

  8. LOVE the library. It’s right down the street from us. We love being in that area. THANKS TO YOU! And, we also met some people who rented your home! Hope all is well.

    We were there last weekend and it was so lovely!!

  9. dsussis says:

    Beautifully told and photographed; a true appreciation of a special place made even better by inhabitants like you. Thanks, Cara for your support and the poetry of your storytelling.

    Btw: I bought myself a copy of The Library and liked it so much that I ordered it for our community Library . Happy you took it out and hope to discuss it with you sometime.

    Donald Sussis, President, Springs Historical Society & Community Library

    PS: I think your photos are so good that, perhaps, you’d agree to make some of them part of the Springs Permanent Archive?

  10. cara says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Donald. Of course I’d agree to make my photos part of the archive; I’d be honored. Please email me at All best.

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