The Historic Harrisburg Association presented a $1,000 check toward the unique renovation and preservation project to join the McCormick Riverfront Library with the adjacent home of its founder.

May 26, 2021

The project will expand McCormick Riverfront Library by connecting it with the 5,458-square-foot Front Street residence of Sara Haldeman Haly, whose bequest in 1896 seeded the Dauphin County Library System. The $3.5 million project will give the combined building more than 3,400-square-feet for a family area that incorporates Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math learning support, additional public meeting space, added public computer resources, and more. 

From the start, the Dauphin County Library System has partnered with Historic Harrisburg in preserving the beautiful Haly House windows and other distinctive features of both buildings. 

“This project continues Sara Haldeman Haly’s vision and will allow us to preserve an important piece of our community’s history while expanding our ability to help residents for years to come,” said Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director. “We are calling the fundraising effort for the project “Your Place to Belong” because the demand for our services has never been greater or more diverse.’’ 

David J. Morrison, Historic Harrisburg’s executive director, said the Your Place to Belong project is the most significant preservation project to occur in downtown Harrisburg in more than 25 years. It also directly contributes to the city’s revitalization and underscores The Library’s ongoing commitment to supporting Harrisburg’s urban fabric. 

“The transformation of the Haldeman Haly House to public institutional and educational use, as an expansion of the downtown McCormick Riverfront Library, makes this a project that will be enjoyed and experienced by visitors, guests, and library patrons of all ages,” Morrison said. “It achieves the highest and best goal of historic preservation.” 

Cullings thanked Historic Harrisburg for consulting on the project as well as for the donation. 

“It’s not often that nonprofits donate to each other and we are grateful for the Historic Harrisburg Association’s help in both funding and expertise,” Cullings said. “This is an effort that will benefit the city and the surrounding region for generations to come.” 

Both the Haldeman Haly House and McCormick Riverfront Library will be featured on the “Secret Gardens of Historic Harrisburg” tour being hosted by Historic Harrisburg Association on June 12. Tour-goers will be treated to brief “before” tours of one or both buildings. The “Secret Gardens of Historic Harrisburg” Tour is a ticketed event and registration is required. The cost for the tour is $20 per person leading up to the day of the event, and $25 per person on the day of the event. For more information and to purchase tickets visit historicharrisburg.org/events

For more information about the project and how the public can help support the effort, please visit YourPlaceToBelong.org

Photo: Gathered in front of the Haldeman Haly House with the McCormick Riverfront Library next door is, from left to right, Tom B. Darr, President of the HHA Board Directors, Susan L. Anthony, Your Place to Belong Campaign Co-chair, David Morrison, HHA Executive Director, Jeb Stuart, HHA Preservation Advisor and Karen Cullings, The Library’s Executive Director.