Lithgow Library Capital Campaign

A History of Lithgow Public Library

Llewellyn Lithgow

Llewellyn Lithgow

What began as the Augusta Literary and Library Association on Water Street became the Lithgow Library and Reading Room when a generous bequest to the city from Llewellyn W. Lithgow allowed the Trustees to incorporate and receive the funds for the purpose of constructing a public library.

The Trustees secured two lots at the corner of Winthrop and State Streets, and thereafter solicited contributions to the building fund. Andrew Carnegie donated $9,000 on the condition that an equal amount be raised through local subscriptions, as an early version of the “matching grant.” The Building Committee selected Neal and Hopkins Architects of Pittsburgh to design the new library, and in May of 1894 the community gathered for an elaborate celebration and parade as the cornerstone was laid.

Lithgow Library c. 1896

Lithgow Library c. 1896

Eighteen months later, the Trustees held an open house so the citizens could examine their new library. Then on February 3, 1896, the Trustees officially received the library from the Building Committee and held a dedication ceremony with the contributors as invited guests. For a cost of $51,850 (including the land) Augusta had achieved Mr. Lithgow’s dream of a public library, a beautiful Renaissance Romanesque “people’s university”. With its impressive quartered oak pillars, its delicate mosaics, its gem-like stained glass windows and ornate gold leaf ornamentation the new library paid tribute to the written word and the life of the mind.

Over a century ago, Llewellyn Lithgow’s gift to the community opened its doors. Those days of closed stacks and silent reading are gone, but Mr. Lithgow’s vision for Augusta’s public library lives on. In 2010, Lithgow Public Library attracted over 129,000 visitors, circulated 167,500 library items, drew in over 7,900 program attendees with its offerings for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, children and teens, and sponsored programs for adults, including free computer instruction. Mr. Lithgow could not have foreseen computer technology, the Internet or DVDs; but the purpose of the public library remains the same – access for all.

After 116 years and only one addition to the original structure in 1979, Lithgow Library is once again at a crossroads. Constrained by inadequate space for its programs and collections, and bursting at the seams with users of all ages, the library needs the same type of vision and leadership Mr. Lithgow displayed to take it from its proud history into the future.

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    Lithgow Library

  • Testimonials

    "The public library is the economic development engine of this community. "

    ~ Roger Pomerleau

  • Currently Raised Total: $2.3 Million

  • Our Progress

Lithgow Library Capital Campaign
Lithgow Library Capital Campaign
Now is the time to preserve the heritage of our library while transforming it into a vibrant, modern community center dedicated to the cultural and intellectual enrichment of present and future generations.

© 2019 Lithgow Library Capital Campaign, All Rights Reserved
PO Box 2456 - Augusta, Maine 04338-2456 | Email: | Phone: 207.547.4547

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