About The Thomas Balch Library

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MissionHistory

Mission

One of the library’s missions is collecting and preserving printed, manuscript, photographic, cartographic and genealogical documentation of Leesburg, Loudoun County and the surrounding region. The library actively seeks and welcomes donations of original business records, diaries, correspondence and photographs documenting life, culture and history of Leesburg and Loudoun County. Library collections include over 32,000 books and periodicals, maps, visual collections, newspapers, government records, and manuscripts. The library offers lectures on history and genealogy, classes, and exhibits. Group tours and orientations are available on request and books about local history are available for purchase on-site. Please contact us to find out more about donating to the library, joining our mailing list, or scheduling a tour.

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History

First Leesburg Library, 102 Cornwall Street NW
Fishburn House, 102 Cornwall Street NW (Thomas
Balch Library Photograph Collection (VC 0001),
Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA)

Library service in Leesburg started in 1907 when a small private subscription library society was opened in the Fishburne home at the corner of 102 Cornwall Street NW.

In January of 1917 the library society moved to the Bentley House, 30 North King Street, with Virginia Aldridge serving as librarian; the annual subscription fee was $1. In 1918 a town library was established.

Following fundraising efforts and construction, a building was dedicated May 13, 1922 as a memorial tribute to Thomas Balch (1821-1877), father of international arbitration and native of Leesburg.

 

Second Leesburg Library, Bentley House, 30 North King Street
Bentley House, 30 North King Street. Thomas Balch
Library Photograph Collection (VC 0001), Thomas
Balch Library,
Leesburg, VA.

The library operated for fifty years under a private Board of Trustees as a subscription library utilizing money from an endowment established by Thomas Willing Balch and Edwin Swift Balch, sons of Thomas Balch. It was staffed by part-time employees and volunteers. In 1960 it became a free, though segregated, public library and in 1965 it was desegregated. In 1974 it joined with the Purcellville, Purcellville Bookmobile and Sterling Libraries as a branch of the recently established (1973) Loudoun County Public Library system serving the community as a full service public library.

Thomas Balch Library ca. 1945
Thomas Balch Library, ca. 1945. Winslow Williams
Photograph Collection (VC 0004),
Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA.

In July 1994, Loudoun County transferred ownership of Thomas Balch Library to the Town of Leesburg to be operated as a history and genealogy library. The original building was designed by noted Washington DC architect Waddy B. Wood. In 2000 renovations and a sympathetic two-floor addition, designed by Bowie Gridley, doubled the library’s size. Interior enhancements include a mural and paintings depicting local history, portraits of distinguished local figures, and Thomas Moser furniture.

 

 

 

 

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First Leesburg Library, 102 Cornwall Street NW
Fishburn House, 102 Cornwall Street NW (Thomas 
Balch Library Photograph Collection (VC 0001), 
Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA)

Library service in Leesburg started in 1907 when a small private subscription library society was opened in the Fishburn home at the corner of 102 Cornwall Street NW.

In January of 1917 the library society moved to the Bentley House, 30 North King Street, with Virginia Aldridge serving as librarian; the annual subscription fee was $1. In 1918 a town library was established.

Following fundraising efforts and construction, a building was dedicated May 13, 1922 as a memorial tribute to Thomas Balch (1821-1877), father of international arbitration and native of Leesburg.

 

Second Leesburg Library, Bentley House, 30 North King Street
Bentley House, 30 North King Street. Thomas Balch 
Library Photograph Collection (VC 0001), Thomas 
Balch Library,
 Leesburg, VA.

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