Palisades Free Library

Palisades Free Library

Photograph Collection


To view the nearly complete collection of photographs owned by the Palisades Free Library visit the New York Heritage website. For permission to reproduce any photographs owned by the Palisades Free Library, please download, complete, and return the to library the following form: The Palisades Free Library Image Reproduction Request Form

A Brief History of the Library


The Palisades Library began in 1891 when Mrs. Lydia Lawrence donated a building, 663 books, and funds for a caretaker. The Reverend Paul Martin of the Methodist Church recalled, "My earliest recollections of the library is of my astonishment at the faith of Mrs. Lawrence, on my first learning that she proposed establishing a library in so small a community."

The library was housed in different buildings over the years. The first attempt to start a Palisades library was a failed endeavor located in the Steepleless Church where the post office now stands. It was so severely vandalized that the project was abandoned. The next library, started by Mrs. Lawrence, was located in the old Watson House or "Ding Dong" house. It was soon moved to The Big House. The house and library duties passed through the Lawrence family women until it moved in 1943 to the Old School, what is now the Palisades Community Center. 

The move to the Palisades School House required the abolishment of the private lending library and the establishment of a "free" public library. In 1944 the Palisades Library Association was dissolved and all of its contents and funds were transferred to a new public library. In 1947, the Palisades Free Library received its temporary charter from the New York State Board of Education and its absolute charter in 1949. While the library was now open to all, it still depended on the services of volunteers and donations of members. It was not until 1962 with the creation of the Orangetown Library District that the Palisades Free Library received tax dollars. 

There was one more move in the future of the library. The growth of the school age population and the popularity of the newly chartered library required new headquarters. Funds were raised to purchase and refurbish its current building on Closter Road. The library thrived in its new space and in 1964 the first expansion of the building was complete. The Miss Florence Babcock wing created a workspace for staff and volunteers and a research and reading room for patrons. By the 1990’s it became clear that the success of the library demanded even more room. Once again volunteers shifted into high gear and raised a half-million dollars for an addition. The 1996 addition increased the library space to 3,767 square feet. Today it is the smallest library in Rockland County. 

There are many important people in the history of the Palisades library. Mrs. Lawrence, her daughter Margaret Lawrence and Miss Margaret’s niece, Lydia Lawrence Tonetti Hyde were essential to the founding and maintenance in the early years. From 1891 through the twenty-first century, three women will be closely associated with the library for their decades of service; Emma Quidor (1891-1941), Mildred Rippey (1948-1983) and Beatrice Agnew (1968-2007). There are many others whose care and dedication has made the library the cornerstone of the community. To read about these people and the library, check out or purchase, A History of the Palisades Free Library, 1891-2008 edited and compiled by Alice Gerard.

The Many Homes of the Palisades Free Library


The follow are photographs of buildings that once housed the Palisades Library from 1891 - Present.

The Ding Dong House
1891 - 1899
Ding Dong
The Big House
1899 - 1944
Big House
Palisades Schoolhouse
1944 - 1953
Jordan House
Current Location, 19 Closter Road
1953 - present
Jordan House

Local History Books

The following titles are available for purchase at the library:

Historic Houses of Palisades, New York by Alice Gerard (2001)                    $40.00
History of the Palisades Free Library by Alice Gerard (2008) $12.00
In a Simpler Time by Alice Gerard (1998) $15.00
Mary Lawrence Tonetti by Barry Faulkner (1996) $6.00
Palisades and Snedens Landing by Alice Haagensen (1986) $35.00
Palisades and Snedens Landing in the Twentieth Century by Alice Gerard (2007) $40.00
A Short History of Palisades by the Palisades Historical Committee (2005) $2.00
Storied Snedens Landing by Alice Gerard (2009) $10.00
The Tonetti Years at Snedens Landing by Isabelle Savell (1977) $18.00









Palisades Obituaries and Biographical Information

Since 1979 the 10964 newsletter of Palisades has been publishing obituaries of local residences. We are in the process of posting them to our blog. Please continue to check back for more additions. After the 10964 has been uploaded, we will post our extensive collection of obituaries from local newspapers.

Palisades Obituaries

Explore More Palisades Local History Resources

Local History


From the very beginning in 1891, the Palisades Library has collected materials on the history of Palisades. 

Some highlights are photographs, maps, the Gesner Diary (1829 - 1850), and the 10964 newsletter (1977 - present).

Call librarian Emily Nevill for more information about the collection.




Palisades History Articles

Courtesy of the 10964 Newsletter

Overview of Palisades History
Palisades Cemetery
The Penguin Pool
Closter Road Part I
Closter Road Part II
Route 340, Past and Present
Camp Shanks to Indian Hill
The Development, Originally Palisades Gardens
Heyhoe Woods Road Through the Ages

Find articles about Palisades, past and present, on the 10964 Newsletter website: