Our Story

HISTORY OF THE STONINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 1959-2014

Compared to other libraries in Maine, the Stonington Public Library is a relative newcomer. It began as an all-volunteer operation in 1955 in a small building off Main Street. The Island Woman‘s Club sponsored the endeavor and stocked the shelves with donated books. With books shelved and a desk added for the librarian, there was little space for patrons. Struggling in such a poor location, the library rented the vacant Boyce‘s Grocery Store (now Boyce‘s Motel) on Main Street.

The library began to grow and on February 10, 1958, interested citizens formed a library association. However, the library’s location continued to be problematic. With information about available buildings and mortgage rates in hand, the board unanimously agreed to buy the building that houses today’s library. On June 9, 1959, the board signed a mortgage for $3,500 from the Bar Harbor Banking and Trust Company. For the next three years, the board worked tirelessly to raise money to pay off the loan. With proceeds from food and book sales, card parties, concerts, a yearly silver tea and donations, the board paid off the mortgage on August 20, 1962.

Funding the library has been an on-going challenge. For many years, the library rented rooms on the second floor to various organizations, individuals and businesses. From 1959 to 1975, a minimal amount of support was raised at the annual town meetings. In 1975, when the library received a donation of $25,000 from the estate of a former Stonington resident, the town felt no need to continue supporting the library. Fortunately, in 2000, the town again began to support the library, with an annual appropriation of $3,000. That amount was increased to $4,000 in 2012. However, with an annual budget of almost $25,000, the board still finds itself having to raise ever-larger amounts to keep the library viable.

“J.L. Thurlow‘s new store is up and the side finish is being put on. It will be a fine commodious two story and a half building, an ornament to the place.”
— Deer Isle Gazette, Sept 18, 1897
 
1897
Mr. J.L. Thurlow builds a grocery store at 64 Main Street. According to stories collected by the first librarian, Mary Cousins, perishables, sides of beef and other meats hung in the back, where the computers now are. Another “Thurlow”, who owned an icehouse, furnished the ice for the store.

1920’s
The building houses a millinery shop owned by Mrs. Emma Marcus.

1930‘s
Annie Blomgrin and Isobel Gray run a ladies’ dress shop at this location.

1940‘s-1950‘s

The building has a variety of short-time uses.

June 9, 1959

The library association buys the building for $3,500.