To: Mississippi Heritage Trust
Re: Nomination to Mississippi's Ten Most Endangered Historic Places
Nominee: "The Town Library," -- Pass Christian, Mississippi
Dated: June 1998
Statement of Significance:
I. The property is located at 221 E. Scenic Drive within the most valuable, heritage location of Pass Christian and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
II. For the past two years, the building has been closed, which presents an immediate and an ongoing threat to its contents by lack of climatic controls, infestation by insects, and continued putrefaction. Several years ago, the building was painted by volunteers, but no inspection was made to determine roof or other preservation monitoring.
III. The "Town Library" was inaugurated on February 21, 1893 by Isabel Bowman Finley as a lending circulation library operating from her home. As its popularity increased, the library was installed within a commercial store having available space.
On June 19, 1908, the founders chartered the organization as The Library Association of The City of Pass Christian and pursued the acquisition of the site, which for the past 90 years has housed an inventory of books in excess of 20,000 volumes. Included are many original publications presented by the original authors and other out-of-print books, which have been donated over the past 105 years since its origination in 1893. Both the content and the structure are priceless treasures. The books date back as far as the 1830's and include a hardback copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet. a set of the Collected Writings of George Washington from 1836 and the Collected Writing of Thomas Jefferson from 1904. Many of the books are first editions and several have been autographed by the authors including Eudora Welty's The Robber Baron. The signature of visitors found in the library register include those of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.
The Building is significant because it has been used as the "Town Library" providing many cultural and educational programs. Of further significance is that one part of the building was used as a classroom for a private school known as Sutter's School. It was operated by Miss Nannie Sutter for many years during the early 1900s.