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Happy birthday, Mr. Young

Library to celebrate 200th birthday of its namesake benefactor

Reaching a milestone birthday is certainly something to celebrate. But when the milestone is a 200th birthday, well, that’s really noteworthy.

Jan. 19 will mark the 200th birthday of early Webster City benefactor Kendall Young. The local library, which was named in honor, plans to celebrate with a party on Friday, Jan. 17.

“We’ll have cake, coffee, punch and mints,” said Ketta Lubberstedt-Arjes, Kendall Young Library director. The party will be from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and will be an open house, come-and-go format.

“We also plan to have some displays about Kendall Young,” she added.

In addition, the Jane Young House, the home that Kendall Young built for his wife, will also be open on Jan. 17 from 2 until 6 p.m for tours. A freewill donation is requested.

According to an article by the late Hamilton County historian, Martin E. Nass, Kendall Kitredge Young was born in 1820 in Eden, Maine. He enlisted in the army when he was 20 to serve in a border dispute with Canada. When he mustered out of the service, he was paid $18 and was given two warrants for government land – one for 40 acres in Cass Township, Hamilton County, and the other for 120 acres in Kossuth County, both in Iowa.

Kendall Young married Jane Underdown in September 1858 at the Willson House Hotel, in Webster City, which was owned by Jane’s brother, Dan.

Young opened a general store and later along with L.L. Estes, the town druggist, opened the first bank on Bank Street — Young and Estes Bank. Later they formed the First National Bank and constructed a two-story brick building on Seneca Street. Young served as president and Estes was vice president.

Kendall Young died on June 30, 1896. His funeral was held July 3 at his home in Webster City which now sits next door to the Kendall Young Library.

When his will was read a few days later, the community was shocked to learn that he had left his entire estate, after allowing for the proper care of his widow Jane, to the City of Webster City for the establishment of a free public library.

The building of the Beaux Arts style library was completed in 1905. It includes columns made of gold marble imported from Africa, terrazzo and mosaic floors, stained glass windows, and a stained glass dome. In 1984, a fundraising campaign was started to raise money for an addition to the library. The original library was 9,600-square feet and the expansion increased the size to 22,300-square-feet.

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