The Lenox Library is a historic landmark, hosted in a 200-year-old courthouse building since 1874. The library itself has a rich history, from its famous visitors to its special collections, featuring the Tanglewood Papers. The Lenox Library also hosts modern youth programs and a distinguished lecture series, which keep the library active in the community while also continuing a tradition in furthering the literary and intellectual.
200-year-old Courthouse Building
Since 1874, the Lenox Library has been housed in the same building, which is now designated a National Register Historic Building. The Greek Revival structure with magnificent ionic columns, elaborate cupola, and a stately facade, was constructed on Main Street in 1815-1816. Designed by Captain Isaac Damon, it served as the county courthouse until 1868. Adeline Schermerhorn bought the building shortly after in 1871 specifically to use as a public library and reading room for the residents of Lenox. The Lenox Library Association, which was incorporated in 1856, moved into the courthouse building in 1874. It shared the space in the 1890s with Lenox’s town doctor, a jail, offices for the Lenox National Bank, as well as the town’s first telephone switchboard and fire alarm system.
The Lenox Library had a strong relationship with surrounding cottages. From the mid-1800s to early 1900s, famous tenants took summer vacations in the surrounding homes. Some of these characters included the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Morgans, Sloanes, and Westinghouses. Their summer homes in Lenox gave the area an established reputation for housing culture and style. During these years, the Lenox Library was a civic center for the entire community.
The Tanglewood Papers are housed at the Lenox Library. These historic papers document the history of the Berkshire Symphonic Festival and Berkshire Music Center before the founding of Tanglewood, as well as the official founding of Tanglewood and its music pavilion, The Shed. The collection is available through appointment with the music and reference librarian.
The Lenox Library is a great resource for kids, hosting several youth programs such as homework help centers and a summer reading program. The website also hosts a page of book series suggestions based on grade ranges and youth reference databases that are free to any Massachusetts library card holders. Kid’s search engines and information portals are also available as wonderful resources.
Lenox Library Distinguished Lecture Series
A monthly distinguished lecture series is hosted at Lenox Library, featuring intellectuals and artists that all seek to inspire with words. The series covers a range of cultural endeavors, from literature, art, and music to science, history, and politics. These free lectures are open to the public, and speakers have included a Nobel Prize Winner, an actor from Shakespeare & Company, a professor at Boston University, and several authors.
Keep Things Literary at Brook Farm
With its extensive poetry collections in the bed and breakfast library, Brook Farm Inn holds literature very dear. A good selection of popular novels are available alongside both traditional and contemporary poetry collections for guests to browse and read during their stay. The inn also hosts poetry readings in the library at tea time, during which guests can also enjoy homemade scones and strawberry jam! For information on what else to do during your stay in Lenox, download our free vacation guide.