A Brief History
Mary Willis Library was founded in 1888 by Dr. Francis T. Willis
in memry of his daughter and as a gift to the people of his
hometown and county. An 1894 catalog of the library state that
the cost of the building was $15,000, the furniture and the
first collection of books, $2,000, and that a fund of $10,000
was provided by Dr. Willis as endowment. Dr. Willis who moved
from Washignton in 1867 to Richmond, Virginia, also donated his
personal library, as did his half-brother, Samuek Barnett, first
president of the Library trustees.
Architect Edmund Lind of Atlanta designed a building in the warm
brick tones and picturesque profile of the fashinable
high-Victorian style. Tall stained-glass windows light the high
beamed interior where original furning are still in use. The
central window, commemorating Mary Willis, was made at Tiffany
Factory in New haven.
library annex, designed by architects Kuhlke and Wade of
Augusta, was completed in April 1977. It combined elements of
the 1888 structure with a functional floor plan, adding 4,459
square feet for a total of 7,114 square fee og floor space.
Another major addition-renovation of the Mary Willis Library was
completed in October, 1991, adding 5,267 square feet to almost
completely occupy its town lot. Architect, Edmund Maddox of
Savannah designed the new space and W.R. Reddick, Inc. of
Thomson directed the construction with Rhycof Design Associated
completing the interior design.
addition to the collection of current library materials, the
Mary Willis Library has an invaluable collection of rare books
of Wilkes and Georgia history, of local authors, family
memorabilia and Washington newspapers. In 1972 the library was
included in the National Register of Historic Sites.
Mary Willis Library is headquarters fo the Bartram Trail
Regional System serving Wilkes, Taliferro and McDuffie counties.
February 2000, the Georgia Historcial Society and the Friends of
the Library erected a historical Marker recognizing the library
as the first free library in Georgia.
|Historical Marker outside
of Mary Willis Library.
||Confederate chest left
behind when Jefferson Davis and the confederate Cabinet
held their finally meeting in Washington.
||Article written by the Atlanta
Journal, on May 9, 1948 about the history of the