Welcome to the
Richard S. Gillis, Jr./Ashland Branch Library
201 S. Railroad Avenue
Ashland, VA 23005
Branch Manager, Cathy Bach
Directions and map to the Ashland Branch Library
Hours of Operation
Monday - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
The Ashland Branch Library began life in 1974
as a project of the Ashland Junior Women's Club and became a part of the Pamunkey Regional
Library in 1975. The original book collection came from donated volumes. By the fall of
1984, the Library had outgrown the four small rooms it occupied in a pre-Civil War
building on the railroad tracks. Space was rented in a storefront at 102 S. Railroad
Avenue. Bands of volunteers and vans ferried the collection to its new quarters in October
1984. A couple of years later, having outgrown the new space, the building next to the
library was also made a part of the branch. The Ashland Branch occupied that space for
thirteen years and again became seriously overcrowded.
In 1994, a bond referendum was approved by the county voters to erect a new library building in Ashland. In mid-November 1997, the Richard S. Gillis, Jr. Library opened its doors. The collection of 30,000 volumes was moved into its present facility by a community-wide "book brigade," which crossed the street and the railroad tracks. As one of the oldest branches in the Pamunkey system, the Ashland Branch is looking forward to a long life in the "center of the universe."
About Richard S. Gillis, Jr.
Born in Lawrenceville, Mr. Richard "Dick" S. Gillis came to Ashland in
the late 1930s to attend Randolph-Macon College and then served as a captain
in the Army during World War II (earning two battle stars and a unit
citation). After the war, Mr. Gillis built a successful 30-year career with
the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, serving as executive vice president and
publisher of Commonwealth magazine.
During his tenure as mayor from 1977 to 1990, Ashland was given the town train station by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, was given a new post office by the federal government, and saw water and sewer service extended to a north Ashland neighborhood. While he was mayor of the Town of Ashland, Mr. Gillis coined the phrase, "The Center of the Universe," which has become Ashland’s motto. It can be seen on everything from bumper stickers to the town’s web site.
Mr. Gillis represented the citizens of the Ashland District on the Hanover Board of Supervisors from 1990 to 1995, chaired the Strawberry Faire Committee for 25 years, and was an officer or board member of numerous civic and charitable organizations.
Mr. Gillis was also a member of the Pamunkey Regional Library Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1980. Given a chance and a forum, Richard Gillis rarely missed the opportunity to tout the benefits of living in Ashland, and he especially pushed for the new library to be built in Ashland’s unique downtown district. When the building was erected in 1997, it bore his name. Mr. Gillis passed away on October 5, 2001. A commemorative plaque was placed in the library foyer after his death.