Read-up on our 1st Library

We asked if you had stories about our landmark library, and a “friend” sent this anecdote connecting the library, the Cossitt family, and two LaGranges – one in TN and the other in IL.

The Memphis library was the dream of Frederick H. Cossitt and the result of a $75,000 gift by his children to see that it was built. But the connection between the Cossitts and this area doesn’t end there.

Frederick Cossitt wasn’t the only member of his family who headed to TN from CT. One of his relatives moved to LaGrange, TN. During the Civil War he was identified as a "Yankee sympathizer" and run out of town. Franklin Dwight Cossitt migrated to the Chicago area and established a new town – LaGrange, Il (now a Chicago suburb). The homes there look very much like those in LaGrange, TN with white clapboard and green shutters.

Cossitt Library opened in 1888 as the Cossitt-Goodwyn Institute, the first public library in Memphis. On April 23, 1893, the original sandstone structure was constructed at 33 Front Street on the Downtown Memphis Promenade, and the Cossitt Library began service.

If you have a story about our fabulous landmark, let us know.