We have been celebrating the Centennial of the opening of the library’s Carpenter Memorial Building in 2014. But we also have more to celebrate!
The Manchester Atheneum was established in 1844 by a group of gentlemen for their own reading pleasure. Only members of this elite “club” were allowed to read the books and many also contributed books on varying subjects. The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company and other businesses also made monetary donations and the private library flourished.
Mayor Frederick Smyth, in his second inaugural address of 1853, proposed the establishment of a “free’ public library for the city residents. On September 06, 1854 the Atheneum collection of 2,953 volumes was transferred to the City of Manchester thus the Manchester City Library was born.
The library continued to grow and was located in the Patten Building on Elm and Stark Streets adjacent to City Hall. A fire on February 04, 1856 destroyed the library and roughly 550 volumes were saved. The library moved to Hanover Street for a year and would later move to a new building on a lot donated by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company on Franklin Street in 1871 but it would out grow this space.
Frank P. Carpenter, a wealthy businessman, donated the Carpenter Memorial Building to the City in Memory of his wife, Elenora Blood Carpenter. On November 18, 1914 the library building opened to the residents of Manchester.
So, the library has three literary reasons to celebrate in 2014: 170 years for the founding of the Manchester Atheneum in 1844, the Manchester City Library established
160 years ago in 1854, and the Centennial anniversary of the Carpenter Memorial Building opened in 1914.
As we look forward to the future we can only imagine the library holding is celebration of two- hundred years of public library service in 2054.
C. N. O’Neil 6/7/2014