Rookwood fireplace in the south wing originally provided
a cozy background for story hour. Above: A detail from the
home and Lane Library, both architectural treasures, still stand and
richly serve the community. Since 1978 his former residence has been
the home of the Hamilton Community Foundation and is known as the
Lane-Hooven House. He donated still another home for use as Butler
County's Children's Home. He was generous to a fault and there were
more than a few who took advantage of his benevolence. Clark Lane's
life was characterized by good deeds, and Hamilton and Butler County
were the primary beneficiaries.
Dr. Henry Mallory penned character sketches of many Hamilton pioneers.
Of Clark Lane's life he closed, The name and generous deeds
of Clark Lane will never fade from the memories of a grateful people
who have been the recipients of his favor.
its 130th year, the Lane Public Library retains many links with its
founder Clark Lane. Work began on the octagonal building in Americas
first peacetime year following the Civil War. Work started in the
spring of 1866 and was completed in that fall. Various sources give
the date of its formal opening as 20 October and 29 November. In a
letter appearing in the 22 November 1866 issue of The Telegraph, Clark
Lane invited all citizens to view the rooms of the Free Public Library
which were to be formally opened to the Public with appropriate
ceremony Thanksgiving evening, 29 November 1866. Its location
on North Third Street in Hamilton was opposite Clark Lanes home.
Since he was the individual responsible for its financing and construction,
it was built on land owned by its benefactor. Had the library been
undertaken by a wider circle of citizens it is likely it would have
been built closer to the center of town.
for the Hamilton Telegraph of 15 November 1866 was aware of architectural
detail as well as details about the buildings construction.
No better account exists of the librarys early appearance. The
unknown writers commentary has provided guidelines to the present-day
architects and craftsmen as they successfully labored to return the
octagonal building to its earliest look. Standing in front of Lane
Public Library today one can view a facade remarkably similar to what
was first described in 1866:
or the citizen who strolls up Third Street cannot fail to notice
on the East side of that street, and between Buckeye and Heaton
Streets, a new building, now nearly completed and of novel proportions.
Standing inside a neat iron fence is a beautiful octagon structure,
its walls of brick with window and door casings of dressed stone,
its roof of variegated slate and surmounted by a dome or cupola
with stained glass windows. If puzzled to know whence and wherefore
came this building let him lift his eyes still higher and observe
the vane, a book transfixed by a quill. This then is a library building,
and if you look across the street you will see the house of its
designer and builder, Mr. Clark Lane.
Hamilton was acquainted with Clark Lanes preference in building.
Both Clark Lanes home and library were octagonal structures.
There was quite a vogue for octagonal buildings in the mid-nineteenth
century due to the writings of Orson Fowler who, in 1853, wrote a
popular book about their advantages. One advantage was that an eight-sided
building permitted more light to enter the building through windows
on more facades. This could be an important consideration for a building
where reading was the primary purpose. The carpenter and contractor
in charge of building Clark Lanes house was a Hamiltonian, James
Elrick. And another Hamilton resident, Timotheus Vogel, designed the
spectacular spiral stairway.
fact that construction of the library followed the building of the
home by only two years, it would seem likely that the Mr. Elrick would
have also been in charge of erecting the library. Strangely, we have
some other names credited with the work. The same Hamilton Telegraph
correspondent reported that the librarys woodwork and
architecture are worthy of their superintendent, Wm. Blackall, whose
skill with the tools of his trade is well known. The names of
Tryon and Clark were acknowledged for the masonry while Sullivan and
Sarver were the plasterers. The interior walls were finished in the
purest white while the window and door casings showcased
their craftsmans skill. William Blackall is listed in Hamiltons
1861-1862 directory as a carpenter while in the 1873
edition he appears as a mechanic.
the Years 1866-1997
(Clark Lane: His Life, Legacy, and
Coming to Hamilton | The Civil War
| Clark Lane's House
| Clark Lane Departs and Returns
Contributions to Elkhart | A Last Trip Home
| Clark Lane Dies | Clark