Westcott Community

The Westcott Neighborhood of Syracuse, NY

A vibrant eastside neighborhood rich in history, culture, food and entertainment

Walking Tours

Gridded Garden

Stop #02

105 Victoria Place, Petit Library

  • Built: 1961
  • Architect: Unknown
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The library is named for Douglas E. Petit, a self-made man who served on the Board of Syracuse Public Library from 1909 until his death in 1925, at which time he was president. Petit Library, then called Westcott Station, first opened in the Lawrence Drug Store at the corner of Westcott and Dell Streets in 1912. The station was discontinued in 1926, in anticipation of the Douglas E. Petit Branch, which opened in a “temporary” space on Nov. 20, 1928 in a first floor apartment at 746 South Beech Street. That space was soon over crowded, but the  library waited for decades for construction funds for a new facility.

In 1952, the situation was described like this: “Hundreds of eager children are among the 7,500 branch users crowding into the small five-room flat every year, leaving little room for the reference patrons and none for the person who just likes to sit and read.”


The current building on Victoria Place was dedicated on May 10, 1961. Though modern in design it fits into the neighborhood due to its small size and careful landscaping. The important decision was made to put parking on the side, not in front, as was the growing custom in the 1960s. Thus, Petit Library’s façade contributes to the streetscape.

The garden area in front of the library is a frequent gathering place for neighbors in good weather and often the site for concerts and other events. The garden as we see it today was inspired and organized by longtime neighborhood activists and WNA leaders Olllie Clubb and Starke Donnally who led the Westcott Neighborhood Association’s Gardening and Landscaping efforts in the 1990s.  Ollie and Starke, together with Kate Mcaffrey, the Petit Branch Manager, engaged local landscape architect Dan Reeder who then coordinated and designed the Petit Garden Project. Groundbreaking took place on June 10, 2000 when volunteers dug beds and began planting. Work continued in May, 2001 when pathways, bricks and inscribed pavers were laid.  A sound of the water feature, donated in memory of Dr. Arthur Fleiss, adds to local bird song to create a tranquil spot for rest, contemplation or meditation, just a few steps off busy Westcott Street.


“Petit Library Seeks Bigger Building,” Post-Standard ? (January 27, 1952)

“City Set to Build New Petit library,” Post-Standard (July 19, 1959)