The Robert Bacon Memorial Children's Library, photographed in 2023 (Credit: Westbury Children's Library)

Westbury Children’s Library Celebrates Centennial This Summer

The Robert Bacon Memorial Children’s Library, also known as the Westbury Children’s Library, is celebrating 100 years of serving and enriching the community with a series of historically fused events this summer.

On June 24, the Westbury Children’s Library will host a community celebration for the occasion from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., with plenty of history, food, and fun for all. The library also has an exhibit of historical photos on display at the Yes We Can! Community Center through the month of June, and is hosting a “bake-off” competition through September with novelty cake pans for library patrons to borrow.

Established by the Bacon family in memory of Colonel Robert Bacon, who served as Secretary of State and Ambassador to France under President Theodore Roosevelt, the Children’s Library first opened its doors on June 24, 1924, roughly five years after Bacon’s death. His widow, Martha Waldron Bacon (née Cowdin), a lover of literature, founded the library in her late husband’s honor. She was instrumental in filling and shaping the beloved local institution that we know today, which stands in its original shape next to the Westbury Memorial Public Library (which it incorporated with in 1965) at 445 Jefferson Street.

Ahead of the centennial, Nassau Illustrated News spoke with Westbury Memorial Public Library director Tracy Horodyski and assistant director Egita Johnson about their research into the Children’s Library’s history and what it has meant to them and to the community over the years.

Something that even Westbury history buffs might not know, Johnson said, is that Mrs. Bacon “went back and forth between what she originally wanted to build there.”

“She toyed with both the ideas of building a museum or building a library, and eventually settled on a library.”

During her research, Johnson also discovered that the signature weathervane on top of the Westbury Children’s Library, which also appears on the library’s sign out front, was put there by Mrs. Bacon as a symbol of love for her family. As Horodyski and Johnson noted, the one big owl and four small owls on the weathervane represent Bacon and her children, perched together on high.

Overall, Johnson, said, “The highlight for me was discovering Martha’s grave. I had believed her final resting place was in Westbury, but it was intriguing to find it in Massachusetts instead.”

For her part, Horodyski said, the best part of researching the history of the Children’s Library was seeing “the obvious love and passion the community showed and continue to show for the Library.”

For example, she said, “Letters were written to the Children’s Library from people serving in the military during World War II, saying that they couldn’t wait to come back to visit.”

Last October, Horodyski added, one frequent Westbury Memorial Public Library patron proposed to another one inside the Westbury Children’s Library, a building they both admired.

According to library records, she said yes.

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