Steep Falls Library



1128 Pequawket Trail

This view of the Steep Falls Library was taken shortly after its construction in 1916
The Steep Falls Library was built in 1916 and opened in 1917 as the Pierce Memorial Library. It was funded by Henry Pierce of San Francisco, who was a native of Steep Falls, and dedicated to the memory of his family... father & mother, Captain William Pierce & Mehitable Charles, Henry's brothers, Marshall, William, Lewis, Ira, & Orestes and his sister Ann.


A postcard view taken sometime before 1925

Henry was in business in Biddeford, Maine when the Gold Rush began in California. He prepared to open a business in San Francisco by shipping goods west in 1849 and in 1850 Henry followed, departing New York on the steamer "Georgia." By 1852, a large variety of goods was being shipped from Boston & New York for sale in California.

Henry, along with other family members who migrated west, became wealthy by owning and operating numerous businesses which included a bakery, flour & grain stores, dairies, a rubber company and a paper company. Henry & William, the two brothers who never married, operated their business under the name of H. & W. Pierce Co.

Henry apparently did not tell his family about his intentions regarding the library. His will left it optional to the executors as to whether the library would be built. Henrietta Pierce Watkinson, of Baldwin Maine, a daughter of Henry's brother Marshall, was instrumental in having the building constructed. She oversaw the original construction & funded the addition in 1925. Today the library operates in part with trust funds set aside by Henry Pierce & by Henrietta Pierce Watkinson.


This interior view was taken soon after the Library was opened in 1917. The circulation desk is on the left. The large painting is by Thomas Hill and is titled
"A Wary Moment." The painting was sold at auction to Ernest Gallo of the Gallo Vineyards in California.


Another interior view looking towards the reading room


The Library "Annex" addition (on the left) was completed in 1925 when this photograph was taken


Two postcard views taken in the 1930's. The interior view is of the annex, also known as the children's room


This postcard was mailed in 1936


A more recent view (1960's)
In 2004 the Pierce Memorial Library achieved national recognition by being named to The National Register of Historic Places by The National Park Service. The designation noted that the original building was designed by Portland architect Edward Fassett and that the addition was designed in the same style by John Calvin Stevens. The Colonial Revival building structure was recognized for its columns, brickwork, slate shingles, copper gutters, medallions, etc.
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