If you have an interest in American history or architecture, make sure to leave a little time during your Berkshires vacation to visit the Lee Library. A beautiful, quiet and historic place, stop in to browse the shelves or enjoy a quiet place to read for a while.
The Lee Library is the only remaining Carnegie library building in the Berkshires. Because of this, it is not only beautiful but also historically significant.
The present building is on the Peter Wilcox homestead. The Wilcox one-story, one-room log house was the location of Lee’s first town meeting held in December 1777.
The remaining original part of the building was constructed in 1907.
The total cost of the building, including the lot and furnishings, was $35,500. Andrew Carnegie donated $12,000, the town appropriated $18,300, and the remainder was donated by citizens. Lee Marble Works quarried and cut the marble used in the construction of the building. The original section of the building is Corinthian in style, with interior woodwork of polished birch.
The library was expanded in 1977. Again, Lee Marble was used in the construction. The new wing tripled the size of the library to to 7,500 square feet. The addition includes the Betty Dennis Children’s Room, stacks, a reading room, and the Gallery.
What is a Carnegie Library?
Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated money to build a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, Mauritius and Fiji.
Very few towns that requested a grant – and agreed to his terms – were refused. The last grant was made in 1919 and there were 3,500 libraries in the United States; nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.
Lodging for your Berkshires Vacation
Whether you are visiting the Berkshires to take in modern American art at Tanglewood or Jacob’s Pillow, natural beauty or history, the Berkshires has something for everyone. We would love to be your hosts at our Bed and Breakfast in Lee, the gateway to the Berkshires.
You can get a walking tour map from the Lee visitor information center at the Chamber of Commerce, a 2 Park Place. Here are some of our favorite stops on the tour:
Congregational Church. (25 Park Place) The 150-foot steeple makes this church the tallest structure in town. It is an unusually fine example of Romanesque style of architecture and it is the dominant feature of the green on which it stands. It was burned down in the Main Street fire of 1857 and rebuilt. Afterwards, it became a favorite item of gossip in other Congregational churches in the Berkshires because it was too ornate and fancy. From June through October tours are given every Saturday morning from 11 am to 1 pm.
Lee Library. (100 Main St.) The original part of the Lee Library was built in 1907 and is the only remaining “Carnegie library” building in the Berkshires. Lee Marble Works quarried and cut the local marble used in the construction.
Memorial Hall. (32 Main St.) Built in 1874, the town offices and Lee Police Station are housed here. The entire structure is a Civil War Memorial. Etched on tablets inside the building read the names of 38 Lee men killed in the War Between the States.
St. George Episcopal Church. (20 Franklin St) The Church was built in 1858. In 1861, it was burned to the ground. After another fire in 1879, several improvements were made to the building. Most notable among them were two beautiful stained glass windows. One, entitled “The Light of the World”, was installed in the nave of the church. The window pictures Jesus knocking at a door with no outside latch, bringing the message that hearts, like the door, should be open.
Visiting the Berkshires this Summer?
Come and stay with us at the Applegate Inn Bed and Breakfast. Between our expansive grounds, pool and luxurious guestrooms, you will be thrilled with your choice!
Red Chair has arrived in the Berkshires!
What, you may be asking, is the ‘Red Chair?’ Well, here is a description from the Red Chair Travels website that will clarify:
“The Red Chair is a symbol, a movement, a phenomenon, a happening. Not just a simple wooden chair, this bright red vintage object is moving from place to beautiful place, exploring the best of New England all this year.
Move aside Flat Stanley, lie down garden gnome, hang yourself out to dry traveling pants… the Red Chair has arrived and captured the hearts and minds of America. This humble desk accoutrement, crimson paint peeling and wooden legs wobbling, will journey around New England building connections, meeting innkeepers and generally exploring some of the most beautiful corners of our country.”
Sounds fun, right? The Red Chair’s visit to our Berkshires bed and breakfast was a great way for us to share with travelers all that the Berkshires has to offer as well as our thriving little community of Lee. Here are the places we brought the Red Chair:
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