Jesup Memorial Library

  • Visit the library (it is FREE) to marvel at the beauty of the era past and get an idea on what summer cottages looked like back then.
1912, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know that despite the fact that the building itself was spared from the Great Fire of 1947, most of the library’s historic records and valuable books were destroyed. How could this be possible? What happened was, when the librarians first heard news of an incoming fire they decided to take the most precious documents from the shelves and stow them away in their own houses. Unfortunately, when the fire came, it burned down the houses, not the library.

  • While visiting the library, ask a librarian about their most valuable item. Locate the item. Who made it? What country was it made in? Hint: it is something that is 400+ year old.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Do you know that 111-years-old Jesup Memorial Library is not a public library, yet “any local resident, homeowner, or College of the Atlantic student can get a library card free of charge. [Jesup Memorial Library website]”?

Bar Harbor Village’s first library was opened in 1875 in the private home of Endora Salisbury, the first librarian. Two years later, after a fire destroyed part of Salisbury’s home, a private club known as Bar Harbor Library Association was formed to fund and manage a new library. A small building was erected soon after to house a collection of several hundred books, with the association’s committee placed in charge. The use of the library was free for local residents, while summer residents were expected to pay a yearly fee.

By 1890, the library’s book collection of over 4,500 volumes outgrew its small home, initiating talks on the building of a public structure to house the works. For 20 years, committees raised funds with limited results, until one day, George B. Dorr, a wealthy nature enthusiast, landscape specialist and future Acadia National Park’s first superintendent, began pitching in his efforts towards helping the library. He approached Maria DeWitt Jesup in 1909, who agreed to finance the construction of a new library building ( $2 million 2021 adjusted) and established an endowment (funds that are invested) ( $1.4 million 2021 adjusted) for its future maintenance. The library was designed by the New York City firm, Delano and Aldrich, and was dedicated in 1911 in memory of her aforementioned husband, Morris, hence the name Jesup Memorial Library.

To this day, the library management believes in the power of personal philanthropy. One of its permanent donors is the Town of Bar Harbor, who donates a portion of the local residents taxes to the library each year. Nurturing the spirit of giving is a life-long tradition here. Today, this library not simply survives but thrives with plans to expend by building a new building next door.

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Copyright © 2022 by E.Gra. Unless otherwise noted, all rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, no part of this work may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the author’s prior written consent.