It is the oldest library building in Putnam County,and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
It was built in 1914 by Arietta Crane Reed as a tribute to her late husband, William Belden Reed, an ardent supporter of the Literary Union of Carmel, which operates the library. It is a Tudorbethan-style building of local stone with marble accents, and much original period furnishing inside.
Carmel had had a library since 1868, when the Carmel Library Association was formed. Its 900 volumes were first in a member’s home, then a local church. This made using it difficult, so in 1881 the Literary Union of Carmel was formed to take control. They housed the books first in homes and later on the second story of a local office building.
In 1911 that space was expanded, but the library’s collection was growing fast enough that it needed its own space. Two members donated the land; Arietta Crane Reed donated the money for the building in memory of her late husband, an executive with the New York City construction company Miller-Reed.
The New York firm of Pryor & Gaylor was commissioned to design a building that could not only serve as a library but a community meeting place. The irregularly-shaped structure accomplished both goals. Reed’s company did the structural work; a local firm handled the masonry. Ground was broken in November 1913 and the building was opened and dedicated seven months later, at a total cost of $45,000 USD ($1,059,518 2008 USD)). It has remained intact, without any alterations, ever since.