Originally called the Paris Mechanics’ Institute in 1858, the Paris Public Library was located at 7 Grand River Street North. The Paris Public Library where it stands today (12 William Street) was built in 1903 by Alexander Frank Wickson after receiving a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The library underwent renovations in 1995, moving the main entrance to Broadway Street. After merging with surrounding areas in 1999, the Paris Public Library was renamed as the Paris Branch of the County of Brant Public Library. The Paris location now serves as the central branch of libraries in the County of Brant, which is a single-tier muncipality.1
1841 – Paris Mutual Institute was Formed.1
Hiram Capron and 25 residents formed the Paris Mutual Institute for lectures, scientific experiments, and circulating library. The name Paris Mutual Institute was soon changed to the Paris Mechanics’ Institute in order for the organization to apply for grants from the government.2
1858 – Paris’s First Public Library was Established at 7 Grand River Street North2
Mr. James Murray operated the first book exchange in the back of Murray’s store. There were 134 books and the library was open every Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm.6
1902 – A Grant for a Larger Library was Donated
The library received a grant of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie on the condition that the town council would provide the library with $1,000 each year in order for services to remain free. The library by-law was voted on and approved by 224 voters, and rejected by only 11 voters.2
1903 – The Paris Public Library was Built
The Paris Public Library was expanded to 12 William Street (because of its central location) by architect A. Frank Wickson.2
1904 – The Library was Open to the Public on July 273
The library consisted of a stacks area, reading room, and lending room. Mr. Ed Reynett was the first librarian.7
c. 1905 – Kerosene Lamps Were Used to Light the Library Until 19067
1906 – After Receiving Funds, the Basement of the Library was Finished and Electricity was Installed7
1916 – Mr. Kirkpatrick was the Librarian for a Salary of $420 per Year6
Books were kept behind a cage and could only be given out by Mr. Kirkpatrick. It was rumored that he would only lend out books if he approved of the person and their book choice.6
1920 – The Hill on Broadway Street next to the Library was Used for Tobogganing4
1930-39 – Book Censors Appeared
Self-proclaimed book censors appeared at the library and crossed out “obscenities” from “immoral” books. Librarian Alex Kirkpatrick received permission from the Library Board to kick out the book censors.4
1940 – Mr. Kirkpatrick was no Longer the Chief Librarian at the Paris Library6
1944 – Mrs. William Muir was Appointed Head Librarian7
1966 – Mrs. Angele Cenulis was the Chief Librarian4
Mrs. Cenulis remained chief librarian until 1982.
197? - The Skylight was Removed5
1972 – The Paris Historical Society’s Museum Began Operation from the Library Basement6
The basement previously had a dirt floor, stone walls, and an open-beamed ceiling. After renovations the basement held the museum as well as a film library and large meeting room where plays, movies, and puppet shows were presented.6
1978 – There was One Full-Time Librarian, Four Part-Time Librarians, and Two Pages Working at the Library6
The main floor was used for stacks and reference sections, and leather chairs and couches were arranged in front of a red brick fireplace. The second floor was used for the children’s section.6
1995 - The Library was Expanded and the Entrance was Moved to Broadway Street1
1999 – The County of Brant Public Library was Formed
The Paris Library and libraries in surrounding areas merged to form the County of Brant. Paris becomes the central branch.1
Because of the buildings symmetrical layout, front façade columned porch, and dentilled cornices, the Paris Branch of the County of Brant Public Library is of the Greek Revival style, common of Carnegie Libraries of its time. The library features a centre gable with the words “Public Library” displayed underneath the trim, another common feature of Carnegie Libraries. The building is two and a half storeys with a cottage roof and stone foundation.7 The library originally had a circular skylight that was removed in the ‘70s. The second floor is now above where the skylight used to be.5
The large windows by the original front entrance, as well as the side of the new entrance way are flat and rectangular in shape with keystones. Keystones can also be seen around what was the original doorway at the front of the building. The columns at either side of the original entrance are doric order, meaning that the top of the columns feature circular capitals. On either side of the door to the original entrance there are two decorative elliptical windows.
Brichromatic brickwork is present as a means of creating a patterned design. A reproduction of the detailed design can be seen on the 1995 addition. As well, the original back wall of the building is visible on the inside of the new entrance way, preserving the architectural integrity of the original structure.
- County of Brant Public Library, History of the County of Brant Libraries: Paris Branch, n.d.
- Smith, Donald. At the Forks of the Grand, 1982.
- Ontario Ministry of Culture. "Operating Public Libraries," 2015.
- Smith, Donald. At the Forks of the Grand: Volume II, 2010.
- County of Brant Public Library. "Paris Public Library c 1910."
- McLeod, Jean Anne. Paris: The “Prettiest” Town in Canada, 1978.
- Paris Museum. Building Files – 12 William Street, retrieved June 2016.
- County of Brant Public Library. "History of the County of Brant Libraries: Paris Branch."
- County of Brant Public Library. (n.d.). "Paris Public Library c. 1910." Retrieved May 2016, from Our Ontario: http://images.ourontario.ca/brant/64454/data?dis=dm
- McLeod, Jean Anne. (1978). Paris: The “Prettiest” Town in Canada. Young Canada Works.
- Ontario Ministry of Culture. (2015). "Operating Public Libraries." Retrieved June 2016.
- Paris Museum and Historical Society. (June 2016). Building Files – 12 William Street.
- Smith, Donald. (1982). At the Forks of the Grand: 20 Historical Essays on Paris, Ontario. Paris, ON: Paris Public Library Board.
- Smith, Donald. (2010). At the Forks of the Grand: Volume II. Paris, ON: Paris Public Library Board.