In the 19th Century public libraries were more than a place of learning; libraries held the town’s history, culture, and artifacts.



On the west wall of the Reference Room hangs a full-length portrait of  T. Jefferson Coolidge, most likely painted by the Massachusetts artist Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938)   It was given to the Library through the good offices of the Coolidge family in 1951.










The large painting, a view of Manchester from Powder House Hill that hangs over the fireplace of the Reference Room was painted in 1888 by Joshua Sheldon who was 80 at the time and blind in one eye.  He first offered the painting to the Town, which refused his offer. Edwin P. Stanley, past commander of Post 67 asked that the painting be donated to the Post.  Sheldon’s brother in 1892, did so and Stanley donated the frame.[1] The Manchester Cricket of 3 August 1889 has a somewhat different story.  Stanley had commissioned the painting, and when the Town declined to come up with the money, he wanted to raise subscriptions to pay for it. At any rate, the painting finally came to the Town as a gift of the GAR Women’s Auxiliary after 1930.

[1] Minutes of Post #67, GAR.  27 May, 1892



Over the entrance to the Children’s Room is a  painting of a young girl by Maria Liszt.  The painting is a copy of a portion of John Singer Sargents’  “The Daughters of Edward Boit,” which hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Butler donated this painting in memory of their daughter.










   First draft of the new Children’s Room by Tom Baker, c1964


A pencil sketch of the Library by Manchester artist Tom Cooke hangs on the south wall near the Reading Room entrance.









The Library in winter by the late Manchester watercolorist Tom Baker





Glitter enhanced portrait of the Library, gift of Anne Wood-Kelley








   Map of Essex County