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Mary Willis Library

Founded 1888

(Information recieved through library handout)

(All Pictures on this Page were taken July 2007)

Submitted by Christina Palmer

A Brief History


The Mary Willis Library was founded in 1888 by Dr. Francis T. Willis in memry of his daughter and as a gift to the people of his hometown and county. An 1894 catalog of the library state 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 by Dr. Willis as endowment. Dr. Willis who moved from Washignton in 1867 to Richmond, Virginia, also donated his personal library, as did his half-brother, Samuek Barnett, first president of the Library trustees.


Architect Edmund Lind of Atlanta designed a building in the warm brick tones and picturesque profile of the fashinable high-Victorian style. Tall stained-glass windows light the high beamed interior where original furning are still in use. The central window, commemorating Mary Willis, was made at Tiffany Factory in New haven.


A library 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 fee og 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 Associated completing the interior design.


In addition to the collection of current library materials, the Mary Willis Library has an invaluable collection of rare books of Wilkes and Georgia history, of local authors, family memorabilia and Washington newspapers. In 1972 the library was included in the National Register of Historic Sites.


The Mary Willis Library is headquarters fo the Bartram Trail Regional System serving Wilkes, Taliferro and McDuffie counties.


In February 2000, the Georgia Historcial Society and the Friends of the Library erected a historical Marker recognizing the library as the first free library in Georgia.


Historical Marker outside of Mary Willis Library. Confederate chest left behind when Jefferson Davis and the confederate Cabinet held their finally meeting in Washington. Article written by the Atlanta Journal, on May 9, 1948 about the history of the Confederate Chest.



Monday, Wednesday, Friday

8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


Tuesdayand Thursday

8:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m.



10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.



Mary Willis Library

Board of Trustees


Samuel Barnett, President

O.S. Barnett, Secretary-Treasurer


Charles A. Alexander

Frank H. Colley

William M. Reese

Benjamin S. Irvin

Frank W. Barnett


Head Librarians


Mary Willis Library


Mrs. Carrie Dyson Turner (1889-1916)

Mrs. Hardeman Woods (1916-1925)

Miss Kathleen Cooley (1925-1964)

Mrs. Marjorie S. Morrow (1965-1988)

Mrs. Celeste A. Stover (1988-2006)

Mrs. Lillie E. Crowe (2006-Present)


Thanks toHidden Ancestors for hosting this site!

County Coordinator:

Georgia State Coordinator:
Ed Gordon

Assistant State Coordinator:
Vivian Price Saffold

Last Updated: 

Copyright 2007-Present - Christina Palmer-The GAGenWeb Project - All Rights Reserved