About Us

The Pembroke Library Association is led by a dedicated, hard-working all-volunteer Board of Directors and is managed by devoted and eager volunteers who wear many hats.  This has led to the success of this venture.

The Pembroke Library Association
~ Board of Directors ~

Fred Gralenski, President
Carol Wolf, Vice President
Tom Adelman, Secretary
Lysa Intrator, Treasurer
Martha Floyd, Bonnie Hunter, Ginnie Stevens, Mona VanWart

The History of the Pembroke Library

The former home of Alfred Sears in 1938.

Following the acquisition of the former Pembroke Grange #245 in 2001; the building needed extensive repairs.

The Pembroke Library today, 2021.

1860 - 2004

Our library building was constructed as a house around 1860 by William T. Hobart. Married to Frances Pattangall in 1855, he and his brother-in-law, Ezra Pattangall, were partners in a successful business. The two in-laws built similar houses on adjacent lots to house their growing families.   

William T. Hobart and Ezra L. Pattangall were partners in the operation of a general store and the building and operation of sailing ships. Among the ships built or operated by them were the schooners 'Nicola', 'Shooting Star' and 'Zeila' {Zella). Additional barks associated with Hobart and Pattangall were the 'Ormus', 'Samos' 'Syra' (Siri) and 'Zin·gara' (Zingari). The size of these vessels ranged from 100 tons to over 500 tons and generally plied the East Coast trade. 

William T. and Frances Hobart had three children, George, Mary E. and Frank, and it appears that the family resided in the house until after 1910. The old magazines found in the attic indicated that they (especially Mary E.) were musically oriented, religious and well read. 

What modifications were made during this time to the original structure we can only guess, but it is apparent that changes were made with little concern to the structural integrity of the building. Fortunately, it was originally built like a fortress, a sort of combination of stick frame and post and beam construction and could withstand these casual alterations. 

After the Hobarts left, Alfred Sears acquired the property. He owned a large meat market in Boston, the ALFRED SEARS Co., at 14 and 15 Faneuil Hall Market and 3 Faneuil Hall Square with offices at 34 Merchant Row. The business was advertised as "wholesale dealers in mutton, lamb, veal, beef, pork and poultry." "Our specialties: calves livers, heads and feet, sweet breads, lamb fries." Mr. Sears was not only a successful business man whose company grossed over one million dollars a year, but was active in the Boston area Shriners ~ and attended banquets at the Hotel Victoria, meetings at the Mechanics Building and Kimball's Hotel in Cohasset and picnics at Bill Crosby's Farm in Harvard, Massachusetts. Alfred Sears was president of the Columbian Mystic Circle in 1907-1908. He was a benevolent owner and there is a record of his company giving the 33 employees a 10% annual bonus. Of the highest paid employees, a C. A. MacDonald, earned $3,100 in 1919 and was given a bonus of $310. This was probably a very good salary in those days; 

But Alfred Sears longed for the country life. In 1916, he gave 1/5 of the common stock (40 shares) of his company to the four directors" "... to encourage harmony, to show that I consider you valuable to the success of the business and that I may, I hope; forever lay down the burdens of business and spend the rest of my time in the country far from all noise and tumult, where I know that I can be happy." Mr. Sears came to Pembroke, modified the building to suit his needs, bought quite a few acres of property, dabbled in farming and read farm journals and news of World War I, storing these and other memorabilia in the attic along with the Hobart magazines. 

The Sears family left the property around 1940 and various owners took their chances on the building until December, 1951 when the Pembroke Grange #245 purchased the structure. Extensive interior modifications were done on the building to change it into a Grange Hall. Over the years, declining membership in the Grange spelled doom for Pembroke Grange #245 and in 2000, the tired old building was auctioned off.

In May 2001, the Pembroke Library Association was formed and was given the property. The question of what to do with the property was pondered by the Association members in a series of discussions among ourselves and with an architect and a library consultant. The location, property and good vibes from the ghosts of the Hobarts and Sears and the positive murmurs from the Grange phantoms won us over and we voted to restore the building. In the fall of 2009, we received a $40,000 grant from the King Foundation, a $10,000 grant from the Libra Foundation and many generous donations from local supporters that enabled us to hire a contractor to begin work on the structure. By the fall of 2002, we had the foundation and basement largely finished, the septic system installed and had accrued over 1,000 hours of volunteer labor in clean-up and demolition work.

We applied for, and with the help of a Maine Community Foundation grant, received a Community Development Block Grant promise of up to $250,000. With this secured, we hired an architect (Q/A 13 Architects, Bangor, ME.), wrangled out our renovation designs for the building, and put it out for bid. Partly because of the 2003 building boom, we only received one bid; the bid was beyond our budget and we failed to negotiate a price for the work involved so we had to reject the bid. This was a definite low point but our emotions were to be even further depressed. A vocal coalition arose with the seemingly sole purpose to derail the library project. Unfortunately, much valuable time, energy and mental resources were spent in refuting our detractors but in the fall of 2003, our spirits were greatly lifted by a $50,000 grant from the King Foundation and words and monetary encouragement from many supporters. With renewed vigor we again preceded on the project and hired contractors to put in a porch foundation, a new and substantial power and communication input, and continue with refurbishing and leveling of the building's underpinnings. 

Written in February of 2004 by Fred Gralenski,
President, Pembroke Library Association

2004 - Present

Since then, we have stocked our book shelves, offer free Internet service, completed renovations on the second floor and have a large community room that hosts many activities such as groups of local knitters, quilters and yoga classes, Girl Scouts, Amateur Down East Astronomers Club, Friends of the Moosehorn, Audubon Society, Friends of Cobscook Bay, local Historical Society, musical groups, and others.  We also installed an elevator to the second floor making the library truly handicapped accessible.  

None of this would not have been possible without our many volunteers who man the circulation desk, write grant applications, carry out housekeeping duties, work in the garden, mow the lawn and work in many additional "behind the scenes" areas.  We are especially proud of the newly re-organized Children’s Room where youngsters attend weekly story times to listen to stories, sing songs and participate in many activities, games and crafts.

To our valuable patrons, thank you for your continuing support by increasing book circulation and visits, spreading the word and telling other people about all the wonderful programs and resources available at our library.  You talk about how the library serves you and others whenever you get a chance. You used your platforms (newspapers, blogs, social media) to share library news and your love of the library with others. 

What Does the Future Hold? 

As well as maintaining our building and grounds, one of our goals for the future includes finishing the third floor and using it for much-needed storage.  Our Board is always open to suggestions for the future of the Pembroke Library.  You know the saying, "It takes a village...to run a rural library."  (Forgive us with taking liberty here.)