Welcome to the Macon, MO Sesquicentennial Celebration!
Welcome to the Macon, MO Sesquicentennial Celebration!
The City of Maples Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary!

A Brief History of the Origins of the Macon Public Library

Taken from an article in a 1976 Edition of the Macon Chronicle-Herald

The Daughters of the American Revolution and Theodore Gary were both played instrumental roles in establishing Macon's library.

The idea of a public library for Macon was first mentioned by Mrs. Richard Holtzclaw at a meeting of the Anne Helm Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. At its birth the library consisted of 192 contributed volumes. When it moved into its first home in two book cases housed in the rear of the Charles G. Howe furniture and undertaking establishment on Rollins Street, the collection had grown to 300 books contributed by DAR members. The opening date of the library at the Howe property was on March 23, 1912.

Growth in the number of volumes prompted a move to the basement of the Episcopal Church to obtain more space. Fires caused the library to move from the Episcopal church and then from its next home, the Christian Church.

The library's last temporary home was in a little building in the front yard of the W. H. Doneghy home, composed of two small rooms and a hall. Charter members of the DAR chapter at first served as library custodians. Later Miss Sarah Larrabee took charge. The library was open on Saturday afternoons and Miss Larrabee was paid $2.50 per month for her services.

A few years later the chapter agreed that a permanent, well equipped structure was needed to serve as Macon's public library. The members worked toward this goal by holding bazaars, teas, receptions and Macon County Society dinners to raise funds. The profits from these activities, plus a gift from Theodore Gary, provided enough money to buy property on which to build the library.

In 1916 the building was erected, the funds for the building and equipment coming from Theodore and Helen L. Gary; Ross and Annie Laurie Larrabee; John, Emma and May Scovern; and Thomas and Hallie Wardell. In 1926 Gary donated bronze tablets to toe set' in the wall of the library above the stairs commemorating its first officers and all those who worked to provide the property, building and equipment and a memorial tablet dedicated to Sarah J. Larrabee's career as teacher and librarian.

The pubic library, still in use today, was dedicated May 21, 1917 with Theodore Gary presiding over the ceremony. The library was then presented to the city. One mill of the city tax was set aside for the support of the library. An endowment fund of $6,500 was set up by donors, Dr. A.G. Hildreth, $500; Mr. and Mrs. John Scovern and Mrs. C.N. Hunt, $1,000; Theodore Gary, $5,000.

The library's first officers were Theodore Gary, president; Mrs. C.H. Payson, vice president; John A. Cook, secretary; John Scovern, treasurer. The first library directors were Mrs. John T. Doneghy, Ross Larrabee, Theodore Gary, Mrs. Otho F. Matthews, Mrs. J.P. Kern, Mrs. W.H. Miller, Thomas E. Wardell, George N. Davis, attorney and Miss Sarah Larrabee, librarian. After Miss Larrabee's death, Mrs. R. Holtzclaw took over duties as librarian.

Theodore Gary's interest in the library continued. By 1926 the library had over 7,000 volumes. That same year Gary fully equipped an addition to the original building and purchased the adjoining north lot for the library.

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Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Macon, Missouri at the Macon, MO Sesquicentennial Celebration!