History Wall Info #6

East River Reading Room

The table in the Rotunda was a gift from the East River Reading Room.

Horace Washburn and his wife Caroline were the major benefactors of the East River Reading Room founded in 1874. Caroline was a teacher at the Hartford Seminary and after their marriage in 1831 became an accomplished miniature portrait painter. The East River Reading Room was one of the early Madison libraries, with a mission to promote “the mental and moral improvement of its members by means of books, papers, magazines and periodicals with exhibitions, readings, recitations, music and lectures, etc.” It acted as a library and a community center. The Boston Post Road building just west of the railway overpass was sold in 2017 and proceeds were donated to the Scranton Library for its 2020 renovation and expansion.

Portraits of Horace Washburn, founder, and his wife, Caroline Munger hang in the East River Reading Room with other artifacts from the ERRR, including their sign. The privately owned building still exists at 151 Boston Post Road.

Photo credit Bob Gundersen/Madison Historical Society.