In 1888 Benjamin H. Warder commissioned the firm of Shipley, Rutan and Coolidge to construct the Warder Public Free Library and Reading Room.
The Warder building remained a gift to the people of Springfield and was rededicated on June 9, 1990 to the Clark County Literacy Coalition, which still resides in the building today.
At the time the Coalition was founded, 20% of adults in Clark County were illiterate. Due to this, the Coalition decided to not only continue the Adult Program that Ms. Stager founded but also created the Teaching Children to Read program. This program, created in 2005, was developed with the belief that the high rate of adult illiteracy in Clark County would lower if people struggling with reading and writing received the extra help they needed at a younger age.
In addition to the Adult and Children Literacy programs, the Clark County Literacy Coalition also offers the program: English to Speakers of Other Languages, designed to provide reading, writing, speaking and understanding of the English language to Clark County’s foreign learners; and Tutor Training, created to train volunteer tutors to provide English language classes at not only the Warder Literacy Center but other literacy programs in Clark County as well.
The Coalition provides instruction in math, employment skills and computer assisted learning, to name a few. In addition, the Coalition assists adult learners in earning their GED and foreign learners in earning their citizenships.
The building located on the corner of High Street and Spring Avenue is L in shape. Built in Romanesque Style, it was constructed from Ohio Buff Sandstone and trimmed with Worcester Brownstone under a red clay tile roof.
The Coalition was founded in 1988 after absorbing an adult literacy program created by Edith E. Stager in the 1950’s. At that time, illiteracy among the people of Clark County was very high and Ms. Stager understood the importance and need of having a literacy program available to the people of this community. She was truly the pioneer of literacy among Clark County. The Coalition understood and saw the need that Ms. Edith Stager had and carried on in her footsteps.
The east wing features an arcaded entrance porch; at the juncture of the wings is a tower that contains the staircase.
The library featured a large reading room heated by a massive sandstone fireplace at one end measuring 18 feet high and 12.5 feet across.
The building is closely related to Richardson's Converse Memorial Library (1885) in Malden, Massachusetts.
Mr. Benjamin Warder dedicated the building in 1890 to the people of Clark County in memory of his parents Jeremiah and Ann A. Warder. This building remained the public library until the library moved into a new building in 1988.