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Allegany County
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The Academy becomes the library, 1934

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Robert Shriver, a prominent Cumberland citizen, spoke at the Centennial Celebration of Allegany County in 1889. He described the early history of education this way.

The early settlers were soon alive to the interests of their children, and so early as the year 1799 they obtained from the Legislature of Maryland an act to incorporate a public school in Allegany County by the name of Allegany County School. Under time provisions of this act the first school of a public nature was established in this county, though it was not public, as we know from published sheets. The building erected for the purpose was located on the lot at the summit of the hill now occupied by the school building of SS. Peter and Paul’s church.

It was at first a one story building with one room, surmounted by a copula. At the time it was built it was probably the only building in the neighborhood, and the scenery from its elevated position must have been very beautiful. The building at a later day had a second room attached, and the school held in it was the only school of a public character in the county. It was not abandoned by the trustees of the Academy until the erection of the present handsome building was ready for use in the year 1850. It was then sold to SS. Peter and Paul’s church, and used by that body as a parochial school for several years, their present school building taking the place and occupying nearly the same site.

Many of our prominent citizens obtained the most, if not all, of their education there, and some of those who hear me will no doubt, while I am talking, recall some of the many jolly pranks and games in which they indulged and which they then enjoyed, the very happiest days of their lives.

Al Feldstein's history of the Allegany County Library noted:

In 1798, "The Visitors of Allegany School" was incorporated by an Act of the Maryland Legislature. Though the Allegany Academy, as it was popularly referred to, charged a small tuition, it is still considered by many to be the first public school in Allegany County.

The Academy was initially located at the corner of Plum Alley and Fayette Street. Between the years 1849-1850, a new Greek-Revival style school building was erected on Washington Street,
at a cost of $5,000, and the Allegany Academy soon relocated to this new location.

After 131 years, the Allegany Academy closed in 1929. In 1934, the building was leased in perpetuity by the County Commissioners to the Cumberland Free Public Library and the library relocated from Greene Street. On June 19th of that same year, 1934, the library was officially opened by Maryland Governor Albert C. Ritchie.


The postcard, from the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein, shows a house next door to the main Academy building. The house was razed in 1966 to make way for the library addition. The house was actually built in 1799 and served as Allegany County's second courthouse. The jail was located in the basement. The building served as a courthouse until 1841 when the county's third courthouse opened. It served as various uses until such time the library occupied the old Allegany County Academy. The house was then used as an annex to the library.

Collection Location:

Public libraries, Maryland, Allegany County; Allegany County Library System (Md.), Anniversaries.

Allegany County (Md,), 1924-2010

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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