The Mary Willis Library was founded in 1888 by Dr. Francis T. Willis in memory of his duaghter and as a gift to the people of his hometown and county. An 1894 catlaog of the library states that the cost of the building was $15,000, the furniture and the first collection of books, $2,000, and that a fund of $10,000 was provided by Dr. Willis as endowment. Dr. Willis, who moved from Washington in 1867 to Richmond, Va., also donated his personal library, as did his half-brother, Samuel Barnett, first president of the library trustees.
Architect Edmund Lind of Atlanta designed the sophisticated building in warm brick tones and picturesque profile of the fashionable high-Victorian style. Tall stained-glass windows light the high beamed interior where original furnishings are still in use. The central window, commemorating Mary Willis, was made at the Tiffany factory in New Haven.
Additions in 1977 and 1991 to the original library have enlarged the building to over 12,000 square feet.
A valued relic of the library is one of three chests brought to Washington by the Confederate Treasury in May, 1865, containing coins to pay off the soldiers who were following the government in its retreat from Richmond.
A stuffed moose keeps a watchful eye over the nonfiction collection in the original portion of the building. This headquarters for the Bartram Trail Regional Library, serving Wilkes, Taliaferro, and McDuffie counties, is included on the National Register of Historic Sites.
A special collection of genealogical and historical books is also maintained.
204 E. Liberty St.
Washington, Georgia 30673
Open 8:30-5:30, Mon., Wed., Fri.
8:30-8:00, Tues., Thurs.
10-4, Sat., Closed Sundays