90 Years Of Sparking Imagination

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This past weekend, the Robert Bacon Memorial Children’s Library celebrated 90 years of reading, learning and creating a haven for youngsters.

Current library director Cathleen Merenda with previous library directors William F. Lollis (1962-96) and Barbara Kramptiz (1996-2001)
Current library director Cathleen Merenda with previous library directors William F. Lollis (1962-96) and Barbara Kramptiz (1996-2001)

Local dignitaries and leaders recognized the important impact the library has had on the community for the past nine decades.

“Children of Westbury are blessed to have this as a place to read, learn and dream,” said library board of trustees President Cosmos Bonaparte, Jr.

“This is a generational place, it has a lot of sentimentality attached to it,” said Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro. “This is one of the most important cultural assets we have in the community because it brings people in who love to read and learn.”

Others remembered fondly the days they spent at the library as kids.

“I grew up in Westbury and remember coming here with my summer reading lists. It brings back a lot of fond memories,” said Legislator Laura Schaefer.

The Robert Bacon Memorial Library first opened on June 24, 1924. It was a gift to the community by the Bacon family, in memory of Colonel Robert Bacon, the Secretary of State and Ambassador to France under President Theodore Roosevelt. After Colonel Bacon’s death in 1919, his widow, Martha, wanted to pay tribute to her husband. In keeping with his desire to be, “an inspiration and to awaken big ambition” in young people, Martha decided to build a memorial dedicated to children.

As well as the building, Martha donated gifts of art to the children’s library. On permanent display is a collection of rare wooden birds carved by Elmer Crowell. Muralist Stewart Travis was commissioned to paint two maps that continue to hang on either side of the front door. One is a map of Long Island showing the native birds, animals, and wild flowers and the other depicts the voyage of the pilgrims.

The library was originally privately endowed and operated as an independent institution for 40 years. In 1965, the Children’s Library became incorporated with the Westbury Memorial Public Library through a school district vote. It has historical landmark status.

 

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