One thing we love about the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, Mass., is that it hangs this big, beautiful flag for patriotic holidays, including Memorial Day. Please excuse our pics — it was pouring rain when we stopped by.
Anyway, please take a moment to appreciate and recognize the selfless people who have sacrificed their lives for our country, and then we’ll tell you about the history of this beautiful library.
The original library opened in 1869, after Maria Hastings Cary (1801-1881) offered the town of Lexington $1,000 to purchase books and establish a free public library. She included a few stipulations that the town met and the library — then located above Bradford Whicher’s store — opened with hours of 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays and 1-8 p.m. Saturdays.
The next year, Cary suggested a library building be constructed, for which she donated $20,000 to construct a new Town Hall. The library reopened in 1871 on its first floor. Mrs. Cary continued to support the library for the next decade, until her death. She left the library $5,000 in her will.
Businessman William Tower was the next person to take a vested interest in the library. In 1887, Tower — who also served in the House of Representatives and on the Governor’s Council — offered to erect a dedicated building if the town would provide the site.
Although Maria Hastings Cary and her husband, William, did not have children, their foster daughter, Alice Butler Cary said the heirs would provide up to $10,000 for the site as well.
In 1888, Tower bought the land where the library currently stands. In 1893 and 1894, Alice Cary bought additional land. All the land was donated to the town in 1905 to construct a library.
Cary Memorial Library moved into its new quarters at its permanent location in 1906. The building was a gift from Alice, to honor her foster mother. When it opened, it had 2,617 books.
Over the years, it grew with the town, experiencing a handful of renovations and expansions to become the building you see today. A major one, occurring during the early 2000s, cost $7 million.
After having spent years going to this library, we have to say, it is incredibly beautiful, with the most amazing childrens and teens departments. Their kids’ programs are second to none.
Its front door is situated diagonally, facing the street corner overlooking the Lexington Battle Green, where several men gave their lives on April 19, 1775, to help build our nation.