Bicentennial Writing Contest

Open to students in grades K - 12 who live in Philipstown.

Winners will receive a $100.00 cash prize and will be invited to read an excerpt of their entry at Cold Spring Aglow on Friday, December 8th.

There will also be a small ceremony at the library for the winners and their families.

Questions? Email [email protected]


START DATE: September 1st

DEADLINE: Friday, October 27th @ 5:00 P.M.

COLD SPRING AGLOW: December, 8th 

Click one of the buttons below to submit your Writing for the Butterfield Library Writing Contest.

Elementary School
Middle and High School

Prompts for the Competition

Below are the Prompts for the Writing Contest. Click on the title to use these downloadable worksheets to help you brainstorm and write your essay or poem.

Elementary School Prompt and Worksheet

Background Information: The painting “A Pic-Nic on the Hudson” shows friends enjoying a picnic along the Hudson River, near the Village of Cold Spring on Constitution Island. It was painted in 1863 by the Hudson River School artist Thomas Rossiter, and is displayed at the Butterfield Library.

Writing Prompt: Write a poem about the picnic, imagining that you were attending the picnic too! What would you have talked about? Seen? Eaten?

Optional Artwork: If you would like, you can create a piece of artwork to accompany your poem. It could be a painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, or anything else!

*FUN FACT* There’s a long history of people writing poems about paintings! In fact, there’s a word for it, EKPHRASIS. (ek-fruh-sis) Ekphrasisrefersto poems about paintings and paintings about poems. Acrossthe centuries, poets and artists have often turned to one another’s work for inspiration.

Middle and High School Prompt and Worksheet

Julia L. Butterfield Biography:

Julia Lorillard Butterfield was born on December 19, 1823 in New York City. She moved to Cold Spring in 1852 with her first husband Frederick James. Up until her death, she spent a large portion of her time at her beautiful Cold Spring residence known as Cragside.

Julia Butterfield was a singular woman of great moral and social conscience. Most of us recognize her name from the public library, but her legacy in Cold Spring continues to touch our lives in countless ways.

Mrs. Butterfield was an early patron and loyal member of the Putnam Historical Society (as the Putnam History Museum was originally known). So dedicated was she that when too ill to attend a meeting, she sent flowers and cakes as a show of her good wishes.

She was also engaged in her faith community. She and Frederick James not only contributed money to help build St. Mary’s Church in 1868, but also donated the gray granite used for its walls and bell tower. The granite was from a quarry on their property.

Mrs. Butterfield’s last wishes included a total of $60,000 for the construction and equipping of a public library, which was opened and dedicated to her in 1924. The library is still located in the original building and continues to be vital to the Cold Spring community today.

Julia Butterfield’s largest bequest gave Cold Spring a hospital at a time when few rural communities had such immediate access to a wide range of medical services. Julia bequeathed $150,000 to build The Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Hospital, which opened in 1925 and served generations of citizens in the area. Adapted from an essay by the Cold Spring Historic District Review Board.

Writing Prompt:

Imagine you were Julia and you were presented with a world problem today. How do you think she would handle it? Consider her character, values, and accomplishments.

Paragraph 1: Present and explain the world problem

Paragraphs 2 & 3: Briefly describe Julia Butterfield. Explain what she would think of the problem and how she would handle it.

Paragraph 4: Summarize the main points of your essay.

Optional Artwork:

If you would like, you can create a piece of artwork to accompany your essay. It could be a painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, or anything else!