Of Historical Note – Hooray for Fay
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Southborough – The photo of this portrait was taken at the Southborough Public Library on Main Street. Beneath the likeness hangs framed wording that identifies whose face it is: “Colonel Francis B. Fay (1793-1876) Principal Benefactor of the Library 1852.”
According to a document produced by the Southborough Historical Society, “A Walk Through the Past A Walking Tour of Southborough’s Historic ‘Holy Hill,” Col. Fay rose during a Town Hall meeting in 1852 where discussions were underway about financing a public library. Per this source, it was there that Col. Fay proclaimed he’d donate 500 pieces of silver to create the core of a free library in town. After a matching sum was raised, a vote was conducted on what to call the facility, and the result was “The Fay Library.”
“The Massachusetts Library Club Bulletin, Volumes 7-12,” made available online by Google books, recounts the manner in which Col. Fay declared his plans to contribute. An excerpt from that bulletin included this quoted statement : “‘Fellow citizens, fellow townsmen!…..as you are dear to me, and as my heart and hands are drawn towards you in affection, and as the enlightenment and elevation of your minds are things near my heart, therefore, if all together, or any of you, will give a like sum, I will give these five hundred pieces of silver to form the nucleus of a Town Library, which shall be free for all the inhabitants of the town for use for their improvement, and for their children’s children forever.’”
More information about Col. Fay was revealed in “The New England Magazine, Volume XXVII, September, 1902—February, 1903,” as also posted online by Google books. According to this document, Col. Fay served as a state senator from Worcester County, and held a U.S. House of Representatives seat.
Of Historical Note is a weekly segment of the Community Advocate that features a hidden or well-known landmark from one of our newspaper’s six communities.
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