Steep Falls Library

1128 Pequawket Trail
Steep Falls, ME 04085


History of the Library

HistoryThe main section of the library (Adult Part) was built in 1916 and opened 1917. It was the gift of the late Henry Pierce to his native village of Steep Falls. Henry was the son of Capt. William Pierce of Standish and Mehetiable Charles of Fryeburg.

Mehetiable's father built, as a tavern, what is now the Route 113 residence of Mr. & Mrs. Ellery H. Ward. It was a gift to her from her father when she married Capt. Pierce. The Pierce children who included Marshall, Henry, William, Lewis, Ira, Ann and Orestis were all born here except Orestis who was probably born in Baldwin after his father died.

According to an autobiography written by Marshall Pierce, the oldest child, Capt. Pierce died when Marshall was only 13 years old. The family appears to have been somewhat broken up at this time.Marshall's autobiography states that Henry went to Biddeford to assist Marshall in sales carried on for a Mr. Deering.

In 1849 when the California fever called, Henry was allowed to prepare a plan for starting a business in San Francisco, shipping the materials around Cape Horne. Henry left New York in May 1850 on the steamer "Georgia". In 1852 a large variety of goods began to be shipped from Boston and New York for sale by Henry in California. Henry, with other family members who migrated to California over the following years, became very successful in a variety of enterprises that included a bakery business, flour and grain, dairying, a rubber company which made belting to run machines, and a paper company.

According to Kay Clegg, a descendent of Henry's sister Ann, they all became wealthy and apparently remain so. Henry and William, the two brothers who never married, were in business together under the title of H & W Pierce Co. After their deaths their brother, Ira, carried on the business under their name. A rift appears to have occurred between Henry and some of the family when his brother, Orestes, died leaving a young wife and two little boys. Henry did not approve when the wealthy young widow left her little sons to the care of others and traveled widely. He apparently did not inform family members of his intentions concerning Steep Falls. It was many years after his death that a family member discovered the library on a trip east.

Steep Falls Library records state that the building was made possible by the bequest of the late Henry Pierce of California, leaving it optional with the executors of said will whether it would be built. Mrs. Henrietta Pierce Watkinson, a daughter of Henry's brother, Marshall who was living nearby in Baldwin, Maine was instrumental in the decision to build the library building. Architect John Calvin Stevens was enlisted to design the building.

The Library opened in 1917 with Martha H. Tucker as librarian and Miss Harriet Adams as deputy librarian. She became Mrs. Guy Sanborn and served the library for 60 years. The Children's room was built in 1925. The library today has a very successful story hour program for children, headed by Cat Macri, who encourages reading and creative activities. We have many events throughout the year for children and adults.

We have a computer room with free Internet access for anyone over 18 years of age.We have many on going classes, for quilting, knitting, scrap booking, genealogy, and many other types of crafts. The circulation and patron use of the library are at an all time high, and hopefully in bringing new ideas and activities, these numbers will continue to grow.

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