Bethlehem Library History

Old and new library
Cruft Town Building - Maplehurst Hotel - New Library


The Bethlehem Public Library was founded in 1877 and was known as the Kenny Library.  It was located in the old Methodist Church and is said to have been started by a Mrs. Presby of Littleton with $1.00 and one book.  The library was later moved to the Cruft block and renamed the Bethlehem Library Association.  It was financed by subscriptions and donations, with a 2¢ per day per volume charge which also helped support the library.

In 1913, the library was moved to the new town building, three trustees were elected, and public money was raised for its support.  By 1920 there were six trustees serving, and in 1964 three more were elected for a board of nine.

    Wilson, Gregory C. Bethlehem, New Hampshire: A Bicentennial History. Published by Bondcliff Books for the Town of Bethlehem, New Hampshire, 1999.

History of the Land

2245 Main Street

In 1875-1876 J. C. Kelley & Sons constructed a boarding house at 2245 Main Street for 40 guests known as The Avenue House.  Owned by the Stinsom as well as the Rowe families, the hotel's name changed to the Grammercy and changed again in 1910 to the Maplehurst Hotel.  In 1911-1912 many structural changes were completed including a circular pavilion at the east end of the porch, new windows and dormers, enlarged dining room with picture windows overlooking the Dalton Hill Range.  In 1911, local carpenter Waldo Whitcomb added a new kitchen and additional guest rooms.  Private baths were added in 1915.  In 1920 Dr. Thomas sold his property on the west side of the property allowing for a large new wing completed in 1927.  The Maplehurst could now accommodate 300 guests.  A September 10, 1927 article in White Mountain  Topics magazine touted:

     The hotel has the advantage of sanitary plumbing, including private baths and lavatories, electric

     lights, and pure cold water for drinking purposes…piped…form a nearby spring.

 By 1930 a ball room with covered walkway joining the main building was built completing the hotel complex.

After World War II, the Eisenhower highway system was completed and vacations for the average family changed from an all summer stay at a resort hotel to a travelling event with automobiles and motels or cabins.  By 1960, without the influx of staying guests, the Maplehurst was purchased by Neil Chase and became the Chase Golf and Tennis Camp.  In the late 1970's John F. Kennedy, Jr. attended this "boot camp for the elite" for one month.

The camp closed in 1988 and by 1996 was taken by the town by tax deed.  Through the efforts of Bethlehem's Fire Chief, Jack Anderson, two grants for $200,000 each were awarded to demolish the complex complicated by asbestos and lead contamination.

The property was cleared in August of 2012 making way for the new building in time to celebrate Bethlehem Public Library's 100th Anniversary in December 2013.