The Alexandria Library Company of Virginia was originally founded on July 24, 1794, at the home of John Wise. One week later all of the members of this Company had a meeting in the long room at Mr. Wise’s home. This session was held in a small room in the upper section of the home for the reason of electing officers. The president, Rev. James Muir, the treasurer, Samuel Craik, and the librarian, Edward Stabler were all selected for their various positions. The Alexandria Library Company was chartered by the General Assembly of Virginia on January 9, 1799.
The first order of business is to establish Mr. Stadler’s Apothecary on Fairfax Street as the new address of the library. Later, other locations included the old City Hall on South Washington Street, the Peabody Hall on North Alfred Street, and the Confederate Veterans Camp Hall on Prince Street. The first acquisition purchased by this Company was the American Encyclopedia. One of the rare books in this library includes the 1822 edition of Miller’s “The Gardeners Dictionary”. This publication was originally a gift from George Washington to Dr. Craik.
The Alexandria Library Company of Virginia thrived as a subscription library for one century and a quarter. Today, it’s successor is the city’s public library, and the original Alexandria Library Company continues to have close ties with the current public library. Today’s Alexandria Library Board has seven members of which three are elected. To round out the seven members, there are three citizens and one member that comes from the Alexandria City Council. The library has a particular history division which maintains a collection of rare books. Unfortunately, during the Civil War one-fifth of the museum’s original collection was lost.
Dr. Robert Smith Barrett donated funds in 1937 to construct a public library in Alexandria, Virginia. He erected the library in memory of his mother, Dr. Kate Barrett. There was a 99-year lease granted by the Society of Friends for the use of a new building to house the library. At the same time, the original Alexandria Library Company made an agreement with the city council to turn over its collection of books and the city also agreed to cover operating expenses for the public library.
It is worth nothing that each year the Alexandria Library Company reverts to a more quiet time when lectures were delivered as a traditional form of entertainment to residents. Historical records include John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Hallowell as some of the old speakers. This fun tradition is carried on today at its anniversary. The lectures include some aspect of life, history, or culture of the southern State of Virginia and other southern states. If you’re interested in building a library reach out this construction company
Of course, one of the more famous libraries in history was the ancient Library of Alexandria in Alexandria Egypt. It was perhaps one of the most significant libraries of the ancient world and was dedicated to the nine goddesses of the arts. Though the library in Alexandria, Virginia is not as famous as its counterpart in Egypt if you are in Virginia you should visit this unique library and examine some of its historically rare books.