History of the Library
Our building, once known as the “The Cross Keys Inn” was constructed around 1825 and was used in its earliest years as a tavern and stage coach stop.
There have been many owners of the building but the most significant owner of the property was Dr. Joseph Priestley. Dr. Priestley was born September 22, 1819 in Point Township, Northumberland County, where his family had been established since 1794 when his great-grandfather, Joseph Priestley, settled here from England.
Dr. Priestley, the owner of the property, attended a local private school, read medicine in nearby Milton, and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1844. He practiced medicine in Northumberland for forty years and was considered to be one of the foremost physicians in the region.
In 1864 the building was purchased by Dr. Priestley who remodeled it for his home and medical practice until his death in 1883.
The building remained part of the family estate until 1925, when Mrs. Frances Priestley-Forsyth donated the house and her books to be used as a public library. In 1981 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library is located in the Northumberland Historic District and is registered in the National Register of Historic Places. Original application for National Register of Historic Place.