The Millinocket Memorial Library will be celebrating its 100th birthday next year. Planning and fundraising are taking place prior to the major renovations expected to begin next May. The library has existed in two locations and its story is a big part of the town’s history. Following is part 1 of the library’s story by this writer which appeared in the Spring, 2016 issue of Memories of Maine magazine.
“On November 11, 1919, the first library in Millinocket opened its doors in the town known as the ‘Magic City.’ The nickname was earned due to the rapid growth from a spot in the Maine wilderness to a bustling town where many new homes and businesses were being built. There were two large hotels, an Opera House, Millinocket Light Company, two livery stables, two blacksmiths, three schools, a fire station and a growing paper mill that had just added three new paper machines. The town was 11 ½ years old.
The previous summer, the Chautauqua (an educational, cultural and religious movement from the late 1800’s that sent out speakers and musicians, etc. to towns throughout the U. S.) came to town and with them was an author/lecturer. In his speech he described the great things he saw in town, but mentioned that he failed to see a public library. This became the impetus for a library and the next town meeting had an article in the warrant to rent the former post office quarters on Central Street, to purchase essential books, and to employ a local person as librarian. There was some opposition to raising the needed $2500.00 but when it was suggested that it be called the Millinocket Memorial Library to honor those had fought in WWI, the article passed.
The Great Northern Paper Company added $1000.00 and Emma Schenck, wife of GNP president Garrett Schenck, added $200.00. Local individuals donated numerous books for this first library. It was located in the Gonya Block next to the Corner Drug Store. The library opened on Armistice Day, November 11, 1919 with Mrs. Mae Shorey as the first librarian. A bronze plaque honoring the town’s war heroes was placed in the library at its dedication. Due to the small space (only one room), adults only were allowed in on opening day. The next day after school, many children packed the sidewalk out front awaiting their chance to enter, to sit at one of the two low round tables and explore one of the many books or magazines from the packed shelves.
Part 2, to follow soon.
***Available at the museum store ………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. Taste of History cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. “Our Real War,” by Mike Murphy $15.00 ($5.00 SH);
7. “Hiking in Baxter State Park” by Greg Westrich – $20.00 ($5.00 SH);
8. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
9. …and more
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.