After reading this American Libraries column, I started thinking about the Plainfield Public Library's rich history of bequests. The generosity of three families made our Library what it is.
Ebanezer and Celeste Nimmons left $25,000 to the Village of Plainfield "if the town shall have organized a free public library" to establish, equip and operate a tax-supported library.
George and Marietta McClester left a charitable remainder trust to the Village of Plainfield "to secure a proper and suitable site and cause to be erected" a library building. Any funds remaining following the building could then be used for maintenance of the library building.
The Village established the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library in 1925. In 1926, the Library opened its doors, in a small, frame building on the south side of Lockport Street.
In 1940, the remainder of the two estates was used to purchase the property at 705 N. Illinois Street and build a new 2,700 square foot library. The McClester and Nimmons names can still be seen, carved in stone above the former entrance to the building that opened in 1941, now the Original Library Room.
Fannie Stratton left the remainder of her estate, a 160-acre farm, to the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library. The farm was operated by the Library from 1954 to 1988, for additional income. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to help construct the 1990 addition to the Library and for the build out of the lower level in 1996.
The Nimmons, McClester and Stratton families left a lasting legacy to Plainfield with bequests that allowed our Library to grow into the vibrant community hub it is today.