Riverhead Free Library’s historic Yellow Barn receives $25,000 state grant for renovations

Restoration funds for the Riverhead Free Library’s historic Perkins Carriage House known as the Yellow Barn, will receive a $25,000 boost in state funding obtained by New York State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead).

The ambitious fundraising campaign for the nearly 150-year-old building was undertaken by the library in 2021 with a goal of $185,000. They have raised $151,675, or 85% of their goal. 

The fundraising effort includes a “buy-a-brick project,” a memorial 4-inch by 8-inch brick with a personalized inscription for donations of $100, or an 8-inch by 8-inch brick for donations of $250. Those who donate anywhere between $500-$2,000 get a plaque in recognition for their generosity.

“When I found out from the state that they were allocating certain funds for me to give to either libraries, schools or not for profits, I was able to give the money to the Yellow Barn for the renovation, because it is such a great addition to the library,” Ms. Giglio said.

The majority of interior renovations were completed and celebrated with a ribbon cutting last summer. The next phase of the project is the exterior renovations which are expected to cost around $60,000. 

According to library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith, the plan is to remove the current coat of paint and replace it with a fresh coat of its iconic yellow color. 

Built in 1873, the building sits on land that was originally the home of “one of the prominent Riverhead families,” the Perkins, according to the Friends of Riverhead Free Library website.

its onThe land was donated in 1958 to become the site of what is now Riverhead Free Library.

This will be the third time the iconic building has been restored. It was first restored in 1965 and again in 1995 after a fire. In 1998, it was moved 25 feet to make way for construction in the library. It was granted landmark status in 2017 and is a stop on a tour of the historic Riverhead landmarks which was created by the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Committee.

“Our libraries provide such a great service to the residents and anything that I can do to make it a pleasant experience and a learning experience for all the people who visit, I am fully engaged,” Ms. Giglio said.

The Yellow Barn is open during the spring, summer, and fall seasons and operates as a used book store run by Friends of the Library, a volunteer organization that raises money to support the library. The proceeds from the sale of the used books are donated to the library.

The library will save whatever funds don’t get used to maintain the building which has become a symbol for the library.

“What we are planning is whatever money isn’t used right now for the restoration will be kept for maintenance so we don’t get stuck in this spot we were in again, that the building falls into such disrepair,” Ms. McMullen Smith said.  “That we’re able to maintain it as things start to happen, we can fix it right away and it gets to stay nice.”

Ms. McMullen Smith is appreciative of the community’s generosity towards maintaining this historic building.

“The community has really opened up their hearts and donated to library for the yellow barn,” she said. “I know that a lot of people do visit the yellow barn to purchase the gently used books, and it’s something that we see a lot of community members come to when it’s open, It’s an important landmark here,” she said.

Those interested may donate online at the Riverhead Free Library Website: Donations are also received by check or cash with the downloadable donation form which can be mailed or dropped off at the library’s circulation desk at 330 Court Street in Riverhead.