As a cultural and informational hub, the Hyannis Public Library is committed to cultivating a strong and stable connection with our surrounding community. The Library’s mission is to embrace diversity, inspire creativity, stimulate intellectual curiosity and facilitate lifelong learning by providing high quality resources, programming and services to all.
Our Library will continue to foster an inclusive, inviting atmosphere that meets the needs of all our users. We will be recognized for providing innovative and accessible resources, services and programs and for creating a comfortable environment that honors our historical setting while supporting contemporary needs and interests. Hyannis Public Library will continue to strengthen its place in the community as a trusted cultural and intellectual social center.
For almost 150 years, Hyannis has had a free public library. In 1862, Rosella Ford Baxter conceived of the idea of a library for the village. She recruited 14 women, and the Library was thus born as a community venture. In 1865, the Library was officially established. It had various homes before moving permanently in 1908 to 401 Main Street, Hyannis, to a classic Cape Cod house with lovely grounds. It was purchased for only $2,500 from the famed James Otis of Hyannis Port, who had held the building in trust after purchasing it from the heirs of Capt. Samuel Hallett.
The first home of the Library was in what used to be Freeman Tobey’s store in the 1860s, which is now known as the Patriot Press building on Pleasant Street. A few years later, the Library moved to the Saturday Night Club Building, still located on Main Street, across from Hyannis Transportation Center and the Cape Cod Railroad.
After reaching its present home, the Loring-Hallett-Otis House (reportedly built around 1830), no major changes occurred until the Eagleston Wing, located to the right of the original entrance, was built in 1938, named after Edward L. Eagleston, a Hyannis innkeeper, who donated $8,000 for the addition. In 1974, a large, two-story contemporary addition was connected to the Eagleston Wing, thanks to a large bequest by Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Twombly and accompanied by an extensive capital campaign coordinated by the Library’s Trustees. In 2008, the Twombley wing was completely refurbished thanks to grants from five local community organizations.
A brief history of the Library would not be complete without mentioning Ora Adams Hinckley, a school teacher, who became the first full time librarian in 1909 and served until 1943. Mrs. Hinckley was a direct descendent of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and also President John Adams. Her husband S. Alexander Hinckley, a musician, railroader, and a soldier in the War Between the States, was a native Cape Codder. In tribute to the long and distinguished service of Mrs. Hinckley to the Library, the original Otis House was renamed in her honor.
Over the years the Hyannis Public Library has served the community…from Presidents and Senators to fisherman and children. it is hoped that those who hold dear tradition, Cape Cod atmosphere and life will continue to invest in our future.
-Excerpted and updated from “Hyannis,” by Janet M. Daly, Arcadia Press 2012