$250K For Sawyer Free Library’s Renovation From BankGloucester


 Cape Ann’s oldest public library, the Sawyer Free Public Library in Gloucester, has received $250,000 donation from BankGloucester to support a renovation that will fully redesigned the library’s interior areas while doubling the size of its the existing library’s footprint with a 15,000-square foot addition.

BankGloucester, based in Gloucester with branches in Essex and Ipswich, announced the donation last week.  The money will go to Sawyer Free 2025, the public charity formed to raise funds for the comprehensive renovation, modernization and expansion of the public library building.   The Sawyer Free Public Library began in 1830 as the Gloucester Lyceum as a center for community lectures and to foster debates on ideas of the day.  Among the intellectuals who appeared were Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes.  In 1854, it expanded and officially became the city’s public library. 

“The Sawyer Free Library has been an important part of this community for many generations,” said BankGloucester President & CEO Patrick Thorpe. “We at BankGloucester are pleased to make this contribution and to be a part of this project. As a source of educational and reference materials as well as programming for both students and adults, Sawyer promotes enrichment and enjoyment for all ages. Additionally, it’s always been an ideal location for community gatherings and meetings. This renovation and expansion will enable our library to continue to be a significant resource for the people of Gloucester, both now and in the future.”

The Sawyer Free 2025 project will preserve the original exterior of Cape Ann’s oldest public library, which will house a fully redesigned interior, and will also double the size of the existing library’s footprint with a 15,000-square foot addition.

“BankGloucester’s generous contribution represents a high-octane injection of momentum into a campaign that’s poised to hit overdrive,” said Barry Weiner, a retired attorney and the campaign chair for Sawyer Free 2025. “Not only does this gift show the kind of impact BankGloucester is having on all aspects of the communities it serves, including economic, social and environmental, but this is a tremendous validation of our vision to fund this once-in-a-lifetime investment in a vital community resource.”

The design principles of Sawyer Free 2025 are grounded in the human experience and an ambition to put people first. The newly renovated and expanded Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library will stand as an exemplar of what a 21st century civic hub can and should be in terms of architecture, accessibility, sustainability, the use of natural resources and light, layouts, lines of sight, air quality and public safety. The end product will exponentially amplify the library’s ability to deliver critical services and outcomes not only for Gloucester, but for communities across Cape Ann and the North Shore as a place of equity, inclusion, connection, creation, compassion, renewal and advancement.

The Sawyer Free 2025 project’s total cost is $28 million, a sum that includes built-in inflation costs through completion of the project in 2025. The Sawyer Library Foundation, the fundraising arm of the campaign, has raised more than $14.3 million so far in pledged donations and grant awards.  The completion of the new facility—featuring a sound studio, a film studio, a digital tech lab and 110-seat community meeting space—will result in a 25-percent increase in annual visitors, a 25-percent increase in the number of public programs offered each month by the library and a 50-percent increase in the number of programs hosted at the library by partner agencies.

bankgloucester, cape ann, sawyer free library