My late grandmother lived in the heart of downtown Westbrook, Maine in a beautiful house on Main Street. We lived with her off and on throughout my life, mostly when I was in elementary school and while my dad was at sea (Navy) for long stretches of time. I have many happy memories from my childhood in Westbrook, usually having to do with cold and snowy weather, the early morning aromas of Dunkin’ Donuts wafting from across the street (“time to make the donuts!“), and the freedom to walk around downtown on my own. I checked Google Maps on this: Everywhere I went was inside a 1/2 mile radius, with very good sidewalks the whole way. But in my mind, it felt like miles and miles of free-range exploration!
Isn’t this building amazing?! Built in 1894 in the French Chateauesque style, the library is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Since my childhood there have been significant renovations to the library, both inside and out, including a new, modern addition behind the original building.
My memories are from well before the renovations. Creaky doors and creaky stairs. Soft, somewhat dim lighting. A strong musty smell. Damp air. Almost complete and utter silence. Librarians who were warm and kind with welcoming smiles. The furniture, the decorations, the floors, the grand stairs, the moulding – everything about the place defined the word majestic. To my elementary school-age self, the impressive stature of this building made stepping inside it feel slightly intimidating, as if I was opening the doors of an ancient castle. You can imagine what it was like to find it filled with books!
The ambiance of that old building (mustiness and all), knowing it contained so many stories I had yet to discover and could never exhaust, and the fact that I could get there all on my own, made it a completely magical place to me. I loved being there.
Today, Walker Memorial Library has a good website and a strong social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Flickr!). From what I can tell, it continues to be a wonderfully active library that people enjoy visiting, which makes me very happy.
Do you have a particular library that was special to you when you were a child? Any specific library-related childhood memories?