The Wagnalls Memorial is a wonderful, Central Ohio resource just outside of Columbus in Lithopolis, Ohio. The stunning building was dedicated in 1925 by Mabel Wagnalls as a tribute to her parents, Adam and Anna. The Wagnalls were from Lithopolis, and Adam was co-founder of the famous encyclopedia publisher, Funk & Wagnalls. Inspired by Mabel’s travels in Europe, the Memorial is a gorgeous Tudor-Gothic structure built from locally quarried stone. Visitors can experience the Memorial’s rich history through a unique tour conducted by Mabel Wagnalls actor, Carol Gaal.
Mabel, an accomplished pianist, writer and heir to her parents’ fortune, chose to honor her parents by providing an exceptional space for the people of Lithopolis. She was inspired to build the Memorial after traveling and seeing the Carnegie libraries in the eastern U.S. Deciding that a library was not enough, Mabel had the foresight to envision the library as a community center. She added a theatre and banquet hall to the building for all the people of Lithopolis to enjoy.
The interior of the library, preserved as it was originally designed, contains the library’s original bookshelves as tables as well as Mabel’s beautiful Steinway grand piano. The library is decorated with hand-carved crests and symbols honoring the values of the Wagnalls family. Artwork by Norman Rockwell, J.F. Kernan, F.X.Leyendecker and John Ward Dunsmore grace the walls, and cases containing personal letters and books of Mabel’s family provide an intimate glimpse into their lives, including writings from renowned magician, Harry Houdini. Mabel also wrote and published a number of books, some of which are available to check out from the library. Letters to Lithopolis capture her youthful correspondence with Ohio writer O. Henry.
Though historic in nature, the library provides modern services to the community – exciting programming, a robust collection of materials, wi-fi and computer access and a warm and welcoming environment. The theatre hosts community events and acting classes, and the banquet hall and grounds can be reserved for private events, like parties and weddings.
This month, The Wagnalls Memorial invites the public to celebrate its 90th anniversary with a reception and family celebration on May 24 and 25.