The Lanark train station rolltop desk and a painting of the stone bridge west of Lanark are two pieces of history that will grace the new City of Lanark Municipal Building and Public Library. (PA photo/John Huggins)
By JOHN HUGGINS | For The Prairie Advocate News
As the Lanark Public Library gears up for its big move to the new municipal building at 111 S. Broad St., a little bit of history is delivered to add to the décor. An old rolltop desk that once occupied space in the railroad depot station in Lanark was donated to the library.
Betty (Gossard) Womack-Anderson, a graduate of Lanark High school now living in Crystal Lake IL, donated the desk. Along with the desk, she sent the following letter describing the history of the piece.
“As well as I can remember, this is the story of the rolltop desk from the train station in Lanark.
It was the station master’s desk in the mid-1930’s. His name was John Shaner. My Grandfather, J. Fleming Gossard, worked for the C.M.StP.&P. (Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific Railroad) as a draymaster in the 30’s. He was in charge of unloading the freight cars and getting the merchandise to the stores or to other freight cars for other places. I was often with him and would go into the station and office to keep warm (and out of the way), I would crawl into the knee hole space and play or take a nap.
“When Mr. Shaner retired, he sold the desk to my father, D. Wales Gossard, and it was in his possession until he died in 1992. At that time it passed to my younger son, David Womack, who used it until 2011. At that time he and I decided the desk should return to Lanark and be a part of the town it had served for so long.”
The desk will be located in the Local History/Genealogy/Lanark Archives area. This area of the building was made possible by a $5,000 donation from an out-of-town couple. It will sit beneath an oil painting of the old landmark stone bridge west of Lanark.
The painting was done by artist David Wolf who graduated from Lanark High School in 1935 in only 3 years. At the age of 14, Wolf was awarded a scholarship to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as American Academy of Chicago. He operated an art studio in Rockford many years and taught painting classes after returning to his rural Lanark farm after his retirement as a commercial graphic artist. The painting was willed to the Lanark Public Library.