In May of 1885, the Paris Public Library was opened to the public. It was located in various places in Market Square before a new, permanent location was built on the corner of Main and Church streets. On January 14, 1927, the Seneca Club, whose fundraising efforts led to the establishment of the new building, presented the deed to the Paris Library Association. The Jeannette Merrill Soule addition was opened June 6, 1998.
Origins of The Seneca Club
On October 14, 1893, Mrs. Harriet Barnes invited twelve young ladies to organize a literary club. Hattie Leach suggested the name Seneca, which means notable in Greek, and the club became known as the Seneca Club. Their purpose was to gather to read some of the classical writings out of the past. Some debates and musicals were held from time to time. Engine Hall, next to the Brick School, was the meeting place. Meetings were held after school hours, as the premises were used for classrooms for the scholars. During 1905, the club raised money to repair a room on the ground floor in the Pythian Block to be used by the Paris Public Library, and established a reading room in connection with the library. This was maintained until 1917. The club furnished the magazines, daily papers, and other reading matter for the reading room. In 1917 the club began to work toward a library building. They started by making dozens of little socks and giving them to everyone with a little verse. They asked that they be filled with pennies the size of their shoe. Many responded and they ended with a total amount of $197.35, which was the beginning of the library fund. From the time that work began the fun grew in many ways from the $197.35 initial gift to the dedication of the library building which took place on Friday evening, January 14, 1927. The deed of the lot and building was presented to the South Paris Library Association by the president of the Seneca Club, Mrs. Alta W. Wise. (Paris Cape Historical Society. "Paris, Maine: The Second Hundred Years 1893-1993" Penobscot Press, 1994.)
The club was reinstituted as a friends group to the library.
Purpose of The Seneca Club
The Seneca Club of the Paris Public Library is committed to making the library a center of our community. Working in partnership with the Board of Trustees and the library staff, the Club supports opportunities promoting a spirit of lifelong learning. The Club contributes financial support to the library and its services through membership fees and fundraising efforts. Club members also assist with programs and activities.
The Seneca Club Accomplishments and Ongoing Projects:
Sponsoring Membership to the Maine Infonet Download Library
Donating plants and labor for beautifying the grounds
Reupholstered the library sofa
Donated to the air conditioning campaign
Sponsored the refurbishing of DVDs
Decorating the library for seasonal holidays and events
Purchasing books to be distributed at Children’s programs
Sponsored library staff attendance at Maine’s Reading Round Up
We invite you to become a part of this exciting organization as a member and/or volunteer.
If interested, stop by the library to pick up a membership form. Or send us an e-mail to paris.public.library@MSLN.net