McKim Building

The McKim Building and its history

The Library was given to the town of Manchester by Mr. T. Jefferson Coolidge and dedicated on October 13, 1887.

The exterior of the Library was designed by Mr. C. F. McKim, architect, and is of a characier (sic) frequently noticed on the French side of the Channel.  The memorial window was designed by him also, the glass executed by Mr. Maitland Armstrong and Messrs. Louis C. Tiffany & Co.; the central panel, bearing the inscription is of Mexican Onyx.  The screen in the Library is in the style of French Renaissance, and built out of fragments of Oak Carving brought from Morlaix, Brittany, by Mr. McKim, in 1878, and valuable both as a carving and as an example of the best Renaissance wood work of Brittany Churches of the sixteenth century.  Other parts of the screen and surrounding paneling are of American Quartered Oak, antique finish, and executed from designs of the architect by Mr. Joseph Cabus of New York.  The principal inscription over the arch is taken from Carlyle’s version of Goethe’s “Choose well; your choice is brief and yet endless.”

The Roof of the Library Room was suggested by the old Library of Merton College, Oxford, twelfth century. The slabs in Memorial Hall are of yellow Numidian (African) Marble.

A new reading room was opened on January 3, 1928, and has been very well patronized and much favorable comment has been expressed as to its utility and attractions.

Central Hall is a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of the town who sacrificed their lives for their country.

A large painting of the Town of Manchester, as seen from Powder-House Hill and done about the year 1888 by Col. Joshua Sheldon, hangs in the reading room.  Col. Sheldon painted this picture at the age of 80 years, although having the sight of only one eye.

This remarkable painting was offered first as a gift to the town and on being refused, Commander Edwin P. Stanley of Post 67, G.A.R., became interested and asked Col. Sheldon to give it to the Grand Army Post 67.  They accepted it with great appreciation and had it hung in their hall.  It was bequeathed to the Women’s Relief Corps who have loaned it to the Library.

(From the Manchester Public Library Bulletin, Jan 1931)