Manchester Public Library, built in 1887, is finally visible in all its beauty and elegance after dark. Before electric lighting arrived in Manchester, our library was built and given to the town as a gift by the industrialist Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, summer resident and the great-grandson of President Thomas Jefferson. His renowned architect, Charles F. McKim, would have been proud to see this dramatic nighttime display with its gentle light.
Six low-voltage LED lights at the front base of the building cast a warm glow on the New England ashlar granite. Additional lights display the clock tower, the ceiling in the cupola, and the dogwood tree on the front yard. Plus, three new LED pathway lights illuminate the handicap ramp to the Children’s entrance on the east side. All the lights are programmed to turn on at dusk and turn off at 11:30 p.m., the same time as the adjacent First Parish Church.
Becky Baun, president of the Friends of the Library said, “The lighting project enhances the texture of the stonework. I love the subtlety of the up lighting. It is just the right amount of lighting, and it looks as if it has always been there.”
Sue Parker, former president of the Manchester Historical Museum commented, “The lighting at the side entry to the children’s room and book drop is welcoming and provides a measure of safety.” She added, “the library lighting now complements its neighbor First Parish Church, Congregational; the two buildings appear to be in synch.”
A series of local organizations and people joined the Friends of the Library in making this project happen. They include the Community Preservation Committee, Manchester Historic District Committee, the Library Director and staff, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of North Shore, Manchester Electric, and Breuker Design-Build. Manchester resident and photographer Steve Rosenthal provided essential lighting advice, and all the photography work, including the photo with this article.
David Lumsden is a Library Trustee