History the Hearst Free Library
"In a commanding position on Main Street, with lines of impressive, classical beauty stands the Hearst Free Public Library, a gift to the people of Anaconda from Mrs. Phoebe Hearst. The first impression one receives is of massive substantiality, an effect which is heightened by the strikingly Grecian purity of outline and the almost severe use of ornamentation which by itself would give an impression of stiffness were it not for the graceful strength imparted to the design by the great spreading arches of the windows. The building is one of the best type of library structure, and has not its equal in Montana; it will compare favorably with any public building in the West."
-- Anaconda Standard, June 12, 1898
The Hearst Free Library is a beautiful example of a classic library built at the turn of the 20th century. No expense was spared. The doors were open to the public on June 1, 1898, and remain open and ready to serve the reading community of Anaconda--more than a century later.
Phoebe Hearst, wife of George Hearst and mother of William Randolph Hearst, had a great affection for the town of Anaconda. She offered to build a library for its citizens. They accepted the offer, knowing that a library would give the people a chance to better themselves.
Mrs. Hearst always had in mind something more than a public library. She intended her library to be a public space, one where the people of Anaconda could go to read, as well as enjoy the finer things life had to offer. She not only supplied the beautiful building with books, but also filled it with original and valuable pieces of art. It was a cultural center for a town that knew how to work hard.
Mrs. Hearst maintained the library until she handed the keys over to the City of Anaconda in 1904, relinquishing her day to day control of the library. She did however see to it that the library received an annual gift of books.
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County has maintained the library for more than a hundred years. It has done so through boom times and bust. The library relies on the citizens of Anaconda for its financial as well as moral support.
Due to the high level of service that the library currently offers and the cherished memories of thousands of Anacondans, the library continues to thrive.