The story of the Hawkes Children’s Library in Cedartown started with an Atlanta philanthropist but was quickly adopted and nurtured by the people of Cedartown.

The development of the city’s first free public library was remembered through an open house held at the building on North College Street last Thursday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the building and library services in Cedartown.

Originally set up through a donation of $7,500 from the estate of Atlanta philanthropist A.K. Hawkes, the children’s library got a boost from local businessmen and others after the initial investment.

“The people of Cedartown thought that if there could be enough money to build a children’s library, then they should raise money on their own and make it the best library it could be for both adults and children,” Cedartown Library branch manager Allison Robinson said.

Local residents raised an extra $18,000 for the construction of the library, which opened on Sept. 30, 1921. It included one side for children’s books and another side for other books. Alice Wray was the first librarian.

Cedartown businessman and entrepreneur Charles Adamson donated the land for the building and was the largest contributor to the fund, according to Robinson.

Displays at the open house chronicled the creation of the library in photos and newspaper articles, and included some of the earliest documents associated with the library, including the original register of borrowers, of which Adamson was the first.

The building held Cedartown’s library until 1974, when its contents were moved to the current Cedartown Library located on East Avenue next to the city auditorium. It was quickly converted into the Polk County Historical Society Museum and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 24, 1980.

The historical society has since moved its museum to the former First National Bank building at 117 West Ave., while still using the Hawkes Children’s Library building as the group’s genealogical research library.

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