Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
LITHGOW LIBRARY, AUGUSTA
The Library Building, erected at an expense of $50,000, is a structure of rare beauty, substantially built of granite. The style of architecture is of the Romanesque-Rennaissance order. The exterior in its entirety, or in its details, is equally pleasing from any point of view: classic and dignified as becomes a building devoted to literature and learning, and the entire interior is well suited to the needs of a public library. Throughout the building, above the basement, except the reading room, the woodwork is of quartered oak, in antique finish. In the reading room the wood finish is of pine, painted and tinted in ivory white, with papier mache ornamentation decorated with good leaf in lemon and old gold hues. A whole volume could be written in describing these beautiful and commodious rooms.
The Lithgow Library and Reading Room is the continuation and grand expansion of the Augusta Literary and Library Association, which was incorporated and approved by the governor Feb. 9, 1872. It is the fruition of the hopes of the originators of that association which was formed for the purpose of maintaining in the city of Augusta a library, reading room, course of literary and scientific lectures, and such other purposes as many come within the province of similar assocations. This association was composed of Augusta's most cultured men and women of literary taste, who found enjoyment and profit in meeting together to read and discuss the best books of that time. Augusta has always been noted for its prominent men, and among the list of original members of the Literary and Library Association are found the names of men distinguished in public life, men of whom any city might be justly proud. At first the home of the association was a room in Meonian Hall Block, where its collection of books began. The following year this place was exchanged for a larger room in Bradbury Block - the birthplace of the Lithgow Library and Reading Room. Money for the purchasing of books was raised by voluntary contributions, and any who gave to the amount of fifty dollars were entitled to life membership. The subscriptions from life members amounted to $2,500, and most of this sum was immediately expended in carefully selected books, in addition to which were many donations of books from well wishers.
Llewellyn William Lithgow, a man universally respected and beloved, was a life member of the Augusta Literary and Library Association, and at his death, which occurred June 22, 1881, he left to the association the sum of $20,000 for the express purpose of creating a fund, to be known as the Lithgow Library and Reading Room Fund, only the interst of which could be used in establishing and maintaining a "Public Library in the City of Augusta, for the use of the citizens thereof forever, subject to such regulations and rules as the City Government may establish. The principal is never to be suffered to diminish, and by if any contingency the principal shall be reduced, said city of Augusta shall immediately make it good."
Mr. Lithgow's will was approved and established by the probate court, July 25, 1887. A meeting of the mayor and aldermen was held Aug. 5, 1881, at which time it was voted to accept the bequest with appropriate recognition of the generosity of the donor, the city to pay interest on the above sum, at the rate of five per cent, per annum, in semi-annual payments perpetually to the board of trustees, which money shall be applied tp the enlargement and sustaining of the Lithgow Libary and Reading Room, or providing accomondations for the same. The first work performed by the board of trustees after its organization, Feb. 12, 1882, was the acceptance of the books and fixtures of the "Augusta Literary and Library Association," which that association had voted to transfer to the Lithgow Library, upon certain conditions. Thus the property of the Augusta Literary and Library Association, which had cost them not less than $3,000 was transferred to the trustees of the Lithgow Library and Reading Room, and the former corporation, after a career of invaluable usefulness, covering a period of ten years, ceased to exist.
In addition to the trust fund of $20,000, and independent of it, a residuary clause in Mr. Lithgow's will bequeathed to Augusta $16,000 which fell into the treasury of the library corporation, and it was voted to use this amount in providing accomodations by constructing a building. As early as 1888 the location was selected and a lot of land secured for $5,300 a the corner of State and Winthrop streets, and later (Oct. 14, 1892) an adjoining lot was purchased for $4,000, forming a commodious site for the contemplated building. The trustees made an appeal through the public press to the citizens to aid in erecting a library building, and at a meeting of the trustees held July 14, 1891, it was "voted that the donor of $1,000 or more toward the Library Building should be entitled to have an alcove therin bear his or her name, or of such person as he or she may designate." A circular letter was prepared setting forth the conditions and needs of the library, and sent to a goodly number of Augusta citizens, and to natives of Augusta residing elsewhere. In answer to this appeal for co-operation, twelve subsctiptions of $1,000 were received, in addition to $6,850 in smaller amounts.
While the trustees were obtaining the above subsciptions, one of their number wrote to Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who, upon hearing the result of the popular subscription, immediately ewsnt a check for $9,000 to the treasurer of the board of trustees. With this substantial aid they could undertake the erection of a building. Sixty-nine architects from Maine to Colorado forwarded building designs for approval, none of which were entirely acceptable, without minor alterations. On Sept. 12, 1893, the trustees voted to accept the amended design furnished by Neal & Hopkins of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A building committee was appointed and for the first six months of 1894 the architects and building committee were diligently engaged in their assigned duties. June 14, 1894, the cornerstone was laid by the Free Masons, with the solemn and impressive rites of that ancient and revered fraternity. Great preparations were made for invited guests, a military band furnished music, an imposing procession of Masons and public men marched to the library lot, where prayer was offered and addresses made. The occasion of the laying of the cornerstone was with great eclat and public approbation, and formally inaugurated a new era in the history of the library. January, 1896, saw the building finished and the books arranged in order on the shelves. On Feb. 3 the contributors and their families were invited to attend the simple and appropriate dedicatory services. The building was delivered to the trustees by the secretary of the building committee; a reponse was made by the president of the board of trustees, and an address of acceptance and dedication was delivered by prayer and benediction. Augusta may well look with justifiable pride upon the result of the efforts of her generous and public-spirited citizens, and with satisfaction at the completing of this beautiful library building.