Exhibitions - The Railroad Museum

Marian Fell Library

The Fellsmere Library Association was organized as a Woman’s Club in 1914 (38 members) and federated in 1915 (91 members). At the time, Fellsmere was part of St. Lucie County and in 1925 became part of Indian River County. The first library books were shelved in the corner of the editorial office of the Fellsmere Tribune. Book counts were less than 50 books (1914) and 1300 reported by November 1915.

The Fellsmere Farms Company gave the Association two city lots in 1915 and Miss Marian Fell, daughter of the founder of the town, donated royalties from her translations of Russian/English stories for the construction of the library. This small bungalow building was dedicated on Saturday, May 1, 1915, with “the large crowd spilling over to the adjoining tennis club grounds”. Marian Fell (Mrs. P.O. Vans Agnew) and a number of officials opened the new building.

The Library Association and the Library building soon became a hub of activity in this isolated frontier town. Cultural and social functions including poetry, music, and receptions were scheduled in the building and on the grounds. A kitchen and bathroom were added in the late 1920s and early 1940s. These additions were attached to the earlier structure and did not alter the original building. Additional lots were also given until almost the entire block between New York and Wyoming Avenues belonged to the Library Association.

The Library building served not only as a repository of books and reference materials, but as a community center. The Library Association met regularly to carry on the work of a library and also services for the community. Some of the activities included fundraising events, recreational activities, tutoring of local students, beautification projects, and health clinics. The building has been “loaned” or rented for private receptions, meetings, and community social events.

In 1987, the Indian River County Historical Society, on behalf of the Fellsmere Library Association, applied to the Florida Department of State, Bureau of Historical Preservation, for a grant-in-aid to restore and refurnish the building. In 1987, Indian River County leased the library building for several years while the north county library was completed between Fellsmere and Sebastian.

In the early 1990s, the Historical Society worked to place this valuable historical resource on the National Register of Historic Places. The ladies of the Fellsmere Library Association continued their tradition of providing a library for the citizens and, especially, the children of Fellsmere.

In 2004, the Fellsmere Library Association donated the Marian Fell Library and its grounds to the Indian River County Historical Society so that their work can be continued. Now as the Librarian/Administrator at the Library, the Society and a number of volunteers continue the work that the ladies of Fellsmere started in 1914.

For the future, the Society is working with Indian River County; if and when Fellsmere is ready for a full fledged library, the grounds of the Marian Fell Library are available so this unique little building can become the centerpiece of modern library complex while still retaining its historical significance.

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