Mary Willis Library was founded in 1888 by Dr. Francis T. Willis in memory of his daughter and as a gift to the people of his hometown and county. An 1894 catalog of the library states 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 as endowment. Dr. Willis, who moved from Washington in 1867 to Richmond, Virginia, also donated his personal library, as did his half-brother, Samuel Barnett, first president of the library trustees.
Architect Edmund Lind of Atlanta designed a brick building in the warm brick tones and picturesque profile of the fashionable high-Victorian style. Tall stained-glass windows light the high beamed interior where original furnishings are still in use. The central window commemorating Mary Willis was made at the Tiffany Factory in New Haven.
ALibrary 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 feet of 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 Associates completing the interior design.
In addition to the collection of current library materials, Mary Willis Library has an invaluable core collection of rare books on Wilkes and Georgia history, books by local authors, family memorabilia and Washington newspapers. In 1972 the Library was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Friends group was founded in 1965 to support the Mary Willis Library, Wilkes County's public library.
The Friends support the library staff and promote the library's programs in the community.
Special projects sponsored by the friends include:
- Book Fairs
- Summer Reading Clubs
- Used Book Sales
- Author Dinners
- Receptions for artists and authors
Meetings are quarterly on the second Thursday in February, May, and October at 4:00 P.M.
Citizens interested in the library and its programs are invited to join. Contact the Mary Willis Library for information on how to join the Friends or visit a regularly scheduled Friends meeting.
204 East Liberty Street - Washington, GA 30673
8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
10 AM - 4 PM