Watertown Free Public Library has been community based from its earliest days. Solon Whitney was named our first librarian in 1867. Throughout his 50 year career he publicly stated his firm belief that the library belonged to the citizens. This is still our basic belief today. During Whitney’s tenure our 1884 building was constructed. Now that building has been completely renovated with an addition that provides services for the 21st. century.

In 2010, a community based committee completed a Long Range Plan for the Library. Central to this plan is the concept of Watertown Free Public Library as a hub where all come to meet and connect in a welcoming, supportive environment. Watertown citizens have a library where they can pursue interests of all kinds -informational, recreational and educational. 

The Watertown Free Public Library has a rich cultural history. From the founding of the library, artists have donated their works so that many may enjoy their treasures. Solon Whitney, the first librarian, lamented on the lack of a space to display art works in the newly built library on Main Street. From his annual report of 1884: “It is a great disappointment to me that there is not a room in the new building which can be a kind of museum of works of art.” He went on to say that he would find places to display the art works as best he could. Again in 1885, he mentions the lack of space, and makes a case for the purchase of display cases for special collections. 

Over 100 years later, we are still fitting in our art works as best we can. The purpose of this is to gather our art works, for identification and appreciation. The treasures add to the quality of life of the citizens of Watertown and we have an obligation to publicize and promote them. Making this information available online is one step toward filling that obligation. 

The art works represented were researched fully by Ellen Wendruff. Ellen also wrote the explanatory text and Scott Levine photographed our art works.

Contributed by Anonymous
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