George Grosvenor Tarbell and the Lincoln Library building

Architect's Sketch and Floor Plan, Lincoln Public Library, 1883

"The town of Lincoln boasts one of the costliest, most beautiful and really artistic library buildings in the state..."

-Boston Daily Advertiser 1884


George Grosvenor Tarbell (1807-1889), a Boston merchant and lover of learning, retired home to Lincoln a wealthy man.  He saw a need in his town and desired to fill it in a significant manner.  In 1883, persuaded against leaving the funding for a town library in his will, Tarbell gifted $27,879 for the construction of THIS building.  He oversaw the creation of each detail of the library sparing no expense in its decoration and furnishings.  Engaging European trained architect William Preston to design this lovely Queen Anne style building, Tarbell charged him to especially plan with a view to enlargement "without great expense and without injury to the architectural effect of the whole."

 "Time alone can show how well it is adapted to those needs."  AND SO IT HAS.



Lincoln Public Library, ca. 1890


The Library was the "means of satisfying the need through inquiry into most departments of knowledge."  To start, the library was opened two days a week.  Only residents over 12 years old could register to borrow books.  In a total population of only 800, about 300 residents applied for library cards.

Lincoln Library with Hoover extension, South view, 1970


Baby booming gave impetus for Library expansion.  The new addition designed by Hoover and Hill Associates housed additional circulation space and a children's room.

Beneath the new children's room was an "unfinished" room for future use.  "You will not be able to enter this room - it has no door.  Who indeed, can enter the future before the appointed time?"

Lincoln Public Library, Gund Addition exterior, 1993


In 1986, the future arrived in the replacement of the Hoover addition and the Gund wing.

Graham Gund, the prominent Boston architect, envisioned a building that would result in a comfortable and coherent whole, reflecting the original Queen Anne style but using a "bouncy freedom" of interpretation.

Gund's style is full of whimsy and delight as can be seen in the Library's interior detailing and the decorative masonry.

George Grosvenor Tarbell and the Lincoln Library building