Litchfield Public Library

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

Historic Litchfield Illinois Library Building
Historic Litchfield Illinois Library Building

An ACT of the General Assembly of Illinois, March 7, 1872, was the first free public library law enacted by any state in the Union. On June 27, 1872, the city council levied a tax for city library and reading room purposes. Winfield Scott Palmer was the mayor. The money collected was permitted to lie in the city treasury until it amounted to $2,259.79.

When E. Southworth was mayor, he appointed Hugh Hughes, D. B. Fleming, Thomas Charles, D. M. Grubbs, George L. Zink, John D. Colt, D. W. Taylor, George W. Jones, and D. P. Woodman as the first library board of trustees in November, 1881.

The library was first located in the upstairs rooms of the Cline Building, 421 North State Street. On April 27, 1882, a formal opening was held.

By 1889, more room was needed and in August the library was moved to rooms over the First National Bank at State and Kirkham Streets.

The need for a library building became apparent by 1903. A special citizens committee was appointed by the mayor, W. J. King, to obtain funds from Andrew Carnegie. The committee was D. O. Settlemire, chairman, M. Morrison, Eli Miller, and W. L. Wooster, secretary. The regular library board members were Mesdames George W. Fisher, Mary Glynn, M. M. Milnor, Charles F. Bartling, Frank R. Milnor, Dr. P. M. Kelly, W. L. Wooster; and two other members not recorded.

The building was completed at a cost of $15,646.55 plus $614.80 for the walks. It was first occupied on September 19, 1905.

The building is located in block 13 of the original town. Conforming to the grant made by P. C. Huggins, November 19, 1853, the city council has retained control of the Public Park of the original plot of the city of Litchfield. The first librarian was Miss Mary Wallace who served for forty years; the present librarian is Mrs. Winifred LeMay. The present library board consists of Mesdames Harry C. Stuttle, Joseph Kniery, P. G. Keese, J. Lynn Bitter, Wm. T. Wilson, Miss Ota May Hushing, David Davis, Harold Fleming, and C. D. Berry.

Taken from: Litchfield Centennial Book 1853-1953

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society