LeDuc Room goes natural at Lanier Library

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Horses and dinosaurs, birds and butterflies, plants and minerals…just about all of nature has permanently taken over the shelves of the LeDuc Room on the lower level of Lanier Library. The acquisition of the almost 2,800 books of the Felburn Nature Library represents a unique convergence of traditions.

Since 1978, the Felburn Foundation, through the generosity of Phil Felburn and his daughter Ellie Schiller, has preserved natural sites in Florida, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. In 1982, the foundation established a library on U.S. Highway 176 between Tryon and Saluda to house a collection of nature and wildlife books and specimens. There in the pastoral setting overlooking the Pacolet River, the collection quietly and steadily grew under the care of friends of the Felburn family: Jack Freeman and his wife Mary Alice and sister Barbara Honeycutt.  When age and illness slowed the caretakers into retirement, the foundation board elected to close the facility in 2016. Foundation director Guy Marwick contacted Lanier Library to determine interest in preserving the collection and the tradition for library members. Working with Harry Goodheart, vice president of Lanier’s board, it was decided that the new home for the many books and the Felburn Library sign would be the historic LeDuc room.

Named for the LeDuc sisters, founders of the Library, the room dates to a 1967 addition to the original library building. Until 1983, it was simply the basement or Terrace Room and, at one time, home to a travel agency. In 1983, members volunteered to renovate the lower level and the LeDuc room was dedicated in 1984 as the site for the Great Books Club and committee meetings, book sales, smaller programs such as Puccini’s operas or Egyptian art, and smaller gatherings such as a Halley’s Comet study group. More recently, the LeDuc room welcomed workshops such as creating a collage, writing a poem or mystery, and making lace. The Lanier Board also meets there once a month. As good fortune would have it, many of the shelves have been empty, as if just waiting for a major donation.

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“Not only did we receive a remarkable collection of books,” says Goodheart, “the foundation kindly gave us a generous grant for the maintenance and updates of the collection… the tradition will be preserved. I cannot encourage members enough to come and see… from the Gobi to the Blue Ridge, salamanders to sea monsters, DaVinci on plants and Carl Sagan on space. Non-members with an interest in nature, animals, and science will find the Felburn Collection to be one more reason to become a member.”

As a community service, the LeDuc Room will continue to be available for rental by small civic or non-profit groups or individuals who need occasional meeting space for non-social gatherings. Special arrangements can also be made for small businesses.

For more information, contact or visit Lanier Library, 72 Chestnut Street, Tryon, 828-859-9535, www.lanierlib.org.

– submitted by Vincent Verrecchio