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Mount Holly Springs Borough


Municipal Offices: Mt. Holly Springs 200 Harman Street Mt. Holly Springs, PA 17065; phone: 717-486-7613.

Early History [1]

Incorporated from South Middleton Township, in 1873. Lies almost within the shadow of the South Mountains, and at the entrance to the Holly Gap from which it derived its name. It was originally called Holly, from a large holly tree. The present borough has also been known as Upper and Lower Holly, Kidderminster, and Papertown. In the original plan of the town, in 1815, it was also known as South Middleton. According to tradition Elizabeth McKinney was the first settler in Holly Gap. Mrs. Jane Thompson erected a stone mansion as early as 1812.

Iron furnaces were built at an early date, and the manufacture of iron was for many years the chief industry. Stephen Foulk and William Cox, Jr., built the Holly Iron Works, about 1785. George Ege built a new furnace in 1812; here cannon were made and gun-barrels bored. In 1812 a paper mill was erected by William Barber, which was destroyed by fire December 25, 1846. William B. Mullin erected another mill on its site and paper making was the chief industry of the town for more than three quarters of a century. Carpet weaving was carried on for a time. Mount Holly has long been enjoyed as a resort center. Population in 1940 was 1,260.

Beginnings [2]

Mt. Holly Springs was already a well-established center of commerce when incorporated as a borough in 1873. Known variously as Papertown or Kidderminster this village was rich in natural resources. In the early 19th century, several paper companies maintained successful mills, supported by an abundant supply of water. In addition, high quality iron ore was in abundance and several furnaces and forges had set up shop. By the turn of the century, Mt. Holly Springs' population had grown to approximately 1,200 persons, largely due to the workforce necessary for the established industries. In addition, the Mount Holly Springs Park was a popular resort destination bringing people from Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

In 1827 the Givin family built a factory in Mt. Holly Springs to make rugs and blankets. Along with these rug-making factories, the Givin's owned Mt. Holly Springs Paper Company was extremely profitable, establishing the family's wealth. With her inheritance, Amelia S. Givin not only built and furnished the library but generously endowed it as well. Records do not show the same level of civic philanthropy from other members of the Givin family. Amelia Givin's uncle, her father's brother Samuel Givin, did serve on Mt. Holly Springs' first Borough Council, but the family's chief civic contribution, other than Amelia's library, appears to be the supply of major community employment at its various factories.

Amelia S. Givin Free Library [3]

The Amelia S. Givin Free Library ... was constructed during the public library movement of the late nineteenth century, which was fueled by various additional philanthropic efforts of organizations such as the Carnegie Foundation, begun in 1881. The Givin Library was the first public library in Cumberland County and has been in continuous operation serving Mt. Holly Springs and the surrounding community for over 113 years. The building is an example of the popular late nineteenth century Romanesque Revival style. The period of significance begins with the construction of the library in 1889 and ends in 1954, following the National Register 50-year guideline.

The Givin Library was in operation a full decade before the next library in Cumberland County would open. The Bosler Library in Carlisle opened in 1900 as a subscription library, costing one dollar per year for its use. The Colonial Revival style Bosler library with its Ionic front porch columns is a stately presence in Carlisle, the seat of Cumberland County and home of Dickinson College. The Bosler and Givin libraries were the only public libraries in Cumberland County until the late 1950s. In 1960, the Cumberland County Library System was formed. It is now a federation of eight independent libraries throughout the county. Until the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library was constructed in 2001 in Camp Hill, the Bosler and Givin libraries were the only county libraries whose original intent was that of a public library.

Henry Hobson Richardson (1836-1868) was an influential voice in civic architecture in the late 1800's. Amelia Givin hired Pittsburgh's James T. Steen, a prominent architect well versed in the Richardsonian style, to design her memorial library. Steen was considered the foremost architect in Western Pennsylvania, designing many buildings in downtown Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, only a few of these have survived. Amongst Steen's best-known Romanesque Revival designs were The Western University of Pennsylvania (later the University of Pittsburgh), the original City Hall, the Kaufman department store, and the YMCA. Steen designed the library using classic Richardsonian elements including: broad round arches, use of towers with conical roofs, rusticated ashlar masonry, battered foundation walls, banks of windows, deeply set windows and doors, squat columns and carved ornament. Little is known about the library's builder, George Rice, other than that he also was said to be from the Pittsburgh area. The buildings south and west facades of brownstone were quarried and worked in Hummelstown, PA and laid up by local masons. The interior woodwork was made by C. S. Ransom & Company in Cleveland, Ohio and shipped via rail to the library. Signatures of some of the carpenters and the first president of the board of trustees are still visible on the attic rafters.

On the 55th anniversary of the library, the Rev. A.D. Gramley dedicated his book, An Introduction to Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, to the Memory of Amelia S. Givin. The chapter on the library opens with the following paragraph: "The Amelia S. Givin Free Public Library was presented officially to the borough of Mt. Holly Springs on January 2,1890. It stands as an index finger for instruction, amusement, and culture. It is located on Baltimore Avenue in the central section of the village. It is an imposing structure and is an ornament and a great blessing to the town. Not often does one see such a commanding building in a town the size of Mt. Holly Springs. Out of the abundance of her wealth, which was accrued from the lucrative paper manufacturing business, Miss Givin gave this depot of literature. The building is constructed architecturally to suit its high purpose. It is true to its design and complies in all its virtues to the purpose for which it was given. It is an unfailing symbol of wisdom and a gem in architecture. Strangers passing through town are impressed by its stateliness and it is environed with an academic atmosphere and wears a scholastic touch."

  1. Godcharles, Frederic A., Litt.D., Chronicles of Central Pennsylvania, 1944, Lewis Historical Publishing, Inc., New York
  2. Tucker, Paul, Amelia S. Given Free Library, 2004, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Document, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.
  3. Photo, Amelia S. Given Library, 114 N. Baltimore Avenue, Mount Holly Springs, PA, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, from PA National Register documentation collection, www.arch.state.pa.us.
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