|Exterior View of Nora's Window on Library|
Photo credit: Larry D. Fenwick
Having decided to honor their daughter Nora E. Larabee with the construction of a beautiful public library to be gifted to the town, they chose perhaps the leading architect in Kansas at that time to design it. His name was Charles E. Shepard. Based in Kansas City, he was an impressive choice.
Shepard chose dark red brick and wood trim fashioned in a Corinthian style for the library. According to Paul Hawkin and Dixie Osborn, writing in the "Stafford County History, 1870 to 1990," when the library was subsequently expanded, each extension included one of the original windows incorporated into the new additions, decisions that made the renovations nearly unnoticeable.
|Stafford Library with addition|
The most beautiful detail of the library, however, was the stained-glass window with the portrait of the lovely, young Nora.
Despite their generous motives, the gift of the library to the town of Safford was not immediately accepted. Although the family businesses had created jobs for Stafford citizens, the mother and daughter had been active in the arts for the town, and the men held city offices, a rift had developed between Joseph Larabee and the editor of the Stafford Carrier, who served on the city council. He led the council members in a rejection of the gift.
The townspeople responded with a recall election that displaced those council members, and the new members accepted the gift. Animosities are not unheard of in communities, and the details of the tragic rift between the two men is not known to many today, but for those of us viewing the beautiful library, the rejection of the gift is difficult to understand. Regardless, the town received a beautiful library, and the family's memorial for their daughter remains in her honor, in her hometown of Stafford, Kansas. The Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Charles E. Shepard also designed the bank building at 100 S. Main in Stafford, and the structure currently houses the Stafford County Museum.
Nora is buried in the family Mausoleum in the cemetery on a hill just outside Stafford.
|Larabee Masoleum, Photo credit: Larry D. Fenwick|