On October 6 the Savona Free Library held a public celebration for the surrounding communities announcing their recent name change to the Dr. Sandor and Berthe Benedek Memorial Library.
The celebration program started with a luncheon catered by King’s Market, followed by speakers, the unveiling of the new Library Sign, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a magic show featuring Moreland the Magician. Speakers included Savona Mayor Brian Scott, Steuben County Legislator Kelly Fitzpatrick, President of the Board of Trustees of the Benedek Memorial Library Bill Fiske, Executive Director of the Southern Tier Library System Brian Hildreth, and Irma Benedek, library benefactor and daughter of Dr. Sandor and Berthe Benedek.
In commemoration of the event a proclamation was issued from the offices of NYS Senator Thomas O’Mara and NYS Assemblyman Phillip Palmesano.
Dr. Sandor Benedek was born in Hungary in 1910. Post World War II he came to the US seeking a better life for himself and his family. In 1957 the family settled in Savona where he set up a private medical practice serving the needs of the citizens of Savona and all the surrounding communities including Campbell, Bradford and Thurston. He loved this area of Steuben County very much and felt very welcome within the community, so much so that he stayed in practice here for the next 35 years, until his death in 1992. He was school physician for the Savona, Bradford and Campbell Central Schools from 1957 through 1991. He served as a Steuben County Coroner for over 20 years. He gave a lot to the community that he felt so much at home in.
His wife, Berthe, known for her skills in gardening, playing the piano and baking was also an avid reader. She passed away in 2008. Dr. and Mrs. Benedek were both strong supporters of education, especially for children.
Upon the death of their parents, their son and daughter, Roland and Irma, respectively, established a memorial fund in their name.
They selected the then-named Savona Free Library as the recipient of these funds. They felt their parents would have been very proud and honored to be remembered in the community by having the library renamed in their honor.
Board President Bill Fiske acknowledged the planning and execution of the event took many hands. He thanked the many people who worked to get the grounds and library ready for the celebration as well as the volunteers who worked on the day of the event to make it a great success.
Phase 1 of the project was the renovation of the circa 1830’s Federal style building which opened in 2014 as the Mary Helen Joint Meeting House in recognition of generous support provided by Mary Helen Joint.
The revitalized landmark provides space for a variety of library activities, including story hours, family movie nights and special events plus office space and storage for the library. In 2015 the library received a New York State Historic Preservation Award in recognition of the library’s restorative work.
In 2017 the library moved from the Village Hall into the meeting house using the first floor space as a temporary location for the library’s collection of books, digital media and computers. There is an ongoing campaign for Phase 2 of the project which will be an addition to the meeting house and serve as the permanent home of the library collection and services.