The public library in Delavan had its beginnings in 1885 under the Caxton plan. Under this plan, 100 people would pay $1 a year for two years and 200 books would be provided by the Caxton Library Company of Chicago. The books received were stored at local businesses.
In 1889, the Delavan Lake Library Association was formed at the Villa Clare home of Mrs. P. R. King. She donated over 500 volumes, which were available for loan by any lake resident at no cost.
Plans for a public library to be built in Delavan began in 1906. Major funding for the project came from James and Susan Aram as a memorial to their three daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Evaline and Marion Adell, who died early in their childhood at ages 13, 7, and 15, respectively.
James Aram was born in New York in 1813. He married Susan Rood in 1836. Soon after their wedding they moved to Ohio and in 1840 moved to the Delavan area where he bought 200 acres of land in East Delavan. In 1843 he sold this land and bought 300 acres near the south shore of Delavan Lake and the inlet.
When he died in 1897, his will provided for several generous gifts to the community, to be activated upon his wife's death. One was the sum of $20,000 to establish and maintain a public library and reading room to be named the Aram Public Library.
In anticipation of a public library, the Delavan Library and Literary Association was established in 1899. Mrs. Aram died December 13, 1905 at age 92; at that time the provisions of Mr. Aram's will became effective.
The first meeting of the Aram Library Committee met on January 23, 1906. By March 28, 1906 the association had selected a site for the library at Fourth Street and Walworth Avenue, the cost to be $4,000 and the present owners to remove buildings now standing on it if the people of Delavan could raise that amount. Alexander H. Allyn contributed $5,000 on the condition that local citizens contribute a like amount. Delavan area residents raised $5,280.
At the January 1907 Aram Library Commission meeting, the secretary was instructed to advertise for building plans to be submitted by March 5, 1907 at 1:00 p.m. They met on March 5th to review the eight sets of plans received. They unanimously selected those of Claude Starck, Madison to be best fitted to their needs.
The Commission met on May 2nd to review completed plans and specifications from the architects. The secretary was instructed to advertise for bids on building construction. Three bids were received. On June 3rd the Commission accepted the bid of Stewart & Hagen from Janesville of $14,459.00.
The final cost of the library was $22,833.29. It was dedicated on July 8, 1908 at 4:00 p.m. The library opened with 2,332 volumes including 686 from the old library/reading room. These later were accumulated by the Library and Literary Association which had formed ten years earlier to help build a foundation for a future public library.
On September 16, 1953 the library received $10,000 from the estate of George O. von Suessmilch to be used for an addition to house historical documents and records of the citizens of the City of Delavan. The collection was to be available for use by the general public.
In the spring of 1975 J. Meade Harris purchased the Irvin Dees home at 115 S. Fourth Street with the provision that Dees could live there rent and tax free for the next five years. After that time the house would be removed or razed and the land used for either library expansion or library parking. This was developed into a parking lot with the assistance of a $10,000 grant from Citizens Bank for the grading, paving, and landscaping.
The Aram Public Library became part of the Lakeshores Library System in 1982. The Friends of the Aram Public Library was established in 1987 to promote and assist the library.
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|404 E. Walworth Ave||Monday-Thursday, 9:30 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.||Monday & Wednesday, 9 A.M. to 8:30 P.M.|
|Delavan, WI 53115||Friday, 9:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.||Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.|
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