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Happy 90th Knight Memorial Library!

Published Date: 
May 6, 2014

The year 1924 marked the opening of Knight Memorial Library to house the Elmwood Public Library which had been established in 1915. The building was built as a memorial to Robert Knight and his wife Josephine Louisa (Webster) by their children. Robert was a Rhode Island textile mill owner who founded the Fruit of the Loom brand along with his brother Benjamin Brayton Knight. The building was designed by Edward Lippincott Tilton, a renowned architect who designed approximately a hundred libraries across North America. He was noted for such innovations as placing the book stacks below ground to preserve daylight areas for readers. The Beaux Arts-style Knight Memorial building features these underground stacks, as well as an Indiana-limestone exterior, fine stained glass, painted ceilings and a Greco-Roman frieze along the interior walls. The open plan of the first floor space was a design feature that Tilton pioneered. The lower level was originally the Children's Library and featured a fireplace decorated with unique tiles (likely hand-painted by local artists) depicting scenes from classic children's stories.

Today, Knight Memorial Library is one of three regional libraries in the PCL system. It provides service to the people of Providence, especially those living in the Elmwood, West End, South Elmwood, Reservoir, Washington Park, Lower South Providence and Upper South Providence neighborhoods. The Friends of Knight Memorial Library is a group that works to raise money to support library programs and building needs thus helping to make the library a vital part of the community.