The Jackson Memorial Library opened at 38 Main Street 1935. The land was donated by the four Long sisters, and the house left to the town by Mary Elinor Jackson was moved by WPA labor to the Main Street site. Ms. Jackson, who had died two years earlier at the age of 77, had been a music teacher and enjoyed sharing her many books with visitors, especially young people. Books loaned were carefully recorded in her notebook. The new library held 2,756 books, all donated, and had living quarters occupied by the librarian or other tenants until 1971.
Fifty years after opening, the library was in need of more space, and construction began on an addition. Just a month after completion of the new space, on January 24, 1988, a chimney fire caused extensive damage to the structure and loss of books. WE WILL REBUILD was the headline on the newspaper coverage of the fire. Generous supporters responded with books and donations (one contributor of limited means wrote “Tack on two shingles with my donation—sorry it can’t be more.”), and by the summer the library was rebuilt and back in business.
As the 75th anniversary of the library approached, it was clear that a larger building was needed to house the library’s collection of books, magazines, DVDs and audios. Space was needed to meet the twenty-first century needs of technology, study areas, and meeting areas for the community. A capital campaign was announced in 2011, “A New Library for St. George: the Next 75 Years”. By 2012, the campaign had successfully met its goal for a new building and endowment on land donated by the town across the street from the old library, when a unique opportunity arose. The Lillius Gilchrest Grace Center had built a large facility next door to the elementary school several years before, but found it could no longer continue its mission of technical education programs for middle school-aged children. Would JML consider taking over the building?
The building proved a challenge in many ways, since it was not designed as a library, but with the help of an architect, a talented builder and a hard-working Building Committee, the structure was reconfigured to house the Jackson Memorial Library in use today. The large space enables us to do many more programs, grow the collection, and creates a place we can truly call St. George’s Living Room. Its proximity to the school means easier access for children and many more collaborative school programs. Situated on 11 acres adjacent to the Tenants Harbor Marsh and the St. George School Nature Trail (accessed from the Library parking lot), the library is a gateway to nature as well as knowledge and community.