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The Library grows a tree

“How can we help the Library and the community?” asked the THE FRIENDS OF THE HAWN MEMORIAL LIBRARY in Clayton NY, at a meeting in the spring of 2013.

Debbie DelVecchio had been planting flowers for the library for some time, but she had a challenge this year: an accessibility ramp was installed and a small space needed filling.

There were many suggestions including a a bench, a fountain, a tree.. and someone suggested an art piece and why not ask William Salisbury, a local sculptor if he had an idea.

William soon produced sketches and a concept that truly caught the attention of THE FRIENDS.   He would build a tall tree with metal books adorning the branches, saying that “There’s a lot of change in the world.  That’s why I choose this idea. Books are fading from the limelight in a lot of ways.”

A native of Syracuse, Will was  born in 1949 and began sculpting at sixteen.  He is well known in the North Country - he created the famous 3 crows on Route 81 heading from the Bridge to Watertown. However, his work is not always easy to view as he expresses his particular social commentary through his art form on difficult subjects such as the atrocities of war.  He is an artist with conviction and a passion for excellence which is celebrated and appreciated by many.

When the final vote was taken the Friends had made the decision to place Will Salisbury’s Tree of Knowledge in the space.  “Late fall will work for me” said Will and then the hard work began for the Friends.  They had to find the money to build the Tree and get it installed.

It was at that point that Glorian Reinman became involved.  A dynamic fund raiser, she helped secure the funding for a new roof on St. Mary’s Church and renovations at the Clayton Opera House.

“We had an initial goal to raise at least half of the required funding by selling at least half of the 25 books that would become symbols on the Tree of Knowledge. The first person I asked was Ken Deedy and he  not only contributed but encouraged me by his enthusiasm. I ride a bicycle all over town and so I put the written materials in my basket and continued on my quest.”

The Friends placed a big banner outside the library announcing the project and soon the donors came forward.  “We had both year-round and summer residents participating.  We not only sold all the 25 of the Tree’s books, but we almost had a waiting list!”.   Yes, the Friends raised the required funds and more importantly built great pride in the project and the Hawn Public Library.

It would appear that choosing to work with Will came with unforeseen bonuses. “Will knew so many in the community who could help and he was not shy to ask.” reports Debbie, “from Spicer’s Marine donating the massive rock that formed the base of the sculpture to the cement base being poured by Thousand Islands Concrete.”

In early September the work was transported to Specialty Welding and Fabricating in Syracuse, where it was sandblasted and given its final protective-coating baking.

In late October villagers gathered to watch a Clayton Town crew follow Will's installation instructions. The dedication ceremony took place on October 30th and Will's Tree of Knowledge has taken root and will welcome all patrons to this special resource in this special community.

WDT Photograph
Chris Brock at the “Watertown Daily Times” provided an overview of the project as well as a fine introduction to artist Will Salisbury.  Click here
Andy Anderson captured the installation on video.

TI Life will introduce Will Salisbury more formally in the January issue.  Until then, please visit his website at

By Susan W. Smith,  Photography by Andy Anderson

  • Will Salisbury's Tree of Knowledge.  Photo Hawn Memorial Library

    Will Salisbury's Tree of Knowledge. Photo Hawn Memorial Library

  • The tree arrives! Photos by Andy Anderson

    The tree arrives! Photos by Andy Anderson

  • The rock, which is signed by the artist, is in place ready for the tree.

    The rock, which is signed by the artist, is in place ready for the tree.

  • Clayton's Town Crew begin their work.

    Clayton's Town Crew begin their work.

  • The next step.

    The next step.

  • Time to undo the wrapping.

    Time to undo the wrapping.

  • Will supervises the installation.

    Will supervises the installation.

  • Yes, the books are made of metal too!

    Yes, the books are made of metal too!

  • She is about to be planted.

    She is about to be planted.


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Will Salisbury
Comment by: Will Salisbury ( )
Left at: 4:53 PM Sunday, March 30, 2014
I hope someone can say something. It was a great experinse for sure..... thanks for the opportunity.... (*: