Haskell Free Library and Opera House
|Haskell Free Library and Opera House
Bibliothèque et salle d'opéra Haskell
Haskell Free Library and Opera House
|Location||Stanstead, Quebec Canada and Derby Line, Vermont United States|
|Architect||Nate Beach & James Ball|
|Architectural style(s)||Romanesque Revival, Victorian, Queen Anne Revival|
|Official name: Haskell Free Library and Opera House National Historic Site of Canada|
|Designated||15 November 1985|
|Designated||8 September 1976|
|Official name: Édifice Haskell Free Library and Opera House|
|Type||Classified heritage immovable|
|Designated||22 December 1977|
The Haskell Free Library and Opera House (French: Bibliothèque et salle d'opéra Haskell) is a neoclassical building that straddles the international border in Rock Island (now part of Stanstead), Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont. The Opera House opened on June 7, 1904, and was deliberately built on the border between Canada and the United States. It was declared as heritage building by both countries in the 1970s.
Today, the library has two different entrances (one from each country), and hence, two different addresses: its American address is 93 Caswell Avenue, while its Canadian address is 1, rue Church (Church Street). Exiting the library through the opposite entrance requires one to report to the country's customs thereafter.
The library collection and the opera stage are located in Stanstead, but the main entrance and most opera seats are located in Derby Line. Because of this, the Haskell is sometimes called "the only library in the U.S.A. with no books" and "the only opera house in the U.S.A. with no stage". Another entrance is accessible directly from Canada, and used to be a backdoor to the stage before, but reconstructed in 2013 in order to remain open to its Canadian visitors without the need to report to customs and immigration of either country.
A thick black line runs beneath the seats of the opera house and diagonally across the center of the library's reading room to mark the international boundary. The stage and half of the seats are in Canada, the remainder of the opera hall is in the US.
The library has a collection of more than 20,000 books in French and English, and is open to the public 38 hours a week.
The building is recognized as a historic site in both countries. In the United States, it has been registered in the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. In Canada, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1985 and has been a provincial heritage site since 1977.
The Haskell Free Library and Opera House was a gift from Mrs. Martha Stewart Haskell and her son Col. Horace “Stewart” Haskell. It was built in memory of her parents Catherine and Horace Stewart and her husband Carlos Freeman Haskell. The Haskells wanted Canadians and Americans to have equal access to the Library and Opera House and so they chose to build on the border. Construction began in 1901 and the Opera House opened in 1904 and the Library in 1905.
The opera house on the second floor was rumored to be modeled after the old Boston Opera House in a somewhat scaled down fashion (it seats four hundred), but the Boston Opera house was built afterwards. A painted scene of Venice on the drop curtain and 4 other scenes by Erwin Lamoss (1901) and plaster scrollwork complete with plump cherubs built in Boston ornament the opera hall and balcony in this historic building, which was constructed with 2-foot-thick (0.61 m) walls built of granite from Stanstead.
The Haskell family later donated the building to the towns of Derby Line and Rock Island in Mr. Haskell's memory; it is run by a private international board of four American and three Canadian directors.
French and English books are co-filed. Because of different language conventions in the direction of printing titles on spines—English books have titles written top-to-bottom, and French books bottom-to-top—the language of a book can be immediately determined.
- "National Register of Historical Places – VERMONT (VT), Orleans County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-07.
- Ministère de la Culture et des Communications. "Édifice Haskell Free Library and Opera House". Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec (in French). Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- Haskell Free Library and Opera House National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Haskell Free Library and Opera House.|
- News related to Canada, U.S. to tighten security between 'cross-border' library at Wikinews
- Haskell Free Library and Opera House website (English) (French)