September 2023: Thompson Free Library Celebrates 125th Anniversary and New Pavilion

By Kim Brawn

We’re very fortunate that Lucia Eddy Thompson was fond of reading and not poker or we might have a casino instead of a library at 186 East Main St. in Dover-Foxcroft! It was 125 years ago that our founder Dr. Elbridge A. Thompson dedicated the Thompson Free Library in the loving memory of his wife, Lucia. This month, we celebrate that anniversary—what began as a proposal at a town meeting in 1897 transformed into a library that has changed lives and the greater community.

Fascinated by Harry and Meghan? Say hello to Henry and Lucy, the stars of Gerard Gawalt’s latest book Fire and Ice: Henry and Lucy Knox and the Settling of Maine. Henry, a bookseller from Boston, who became a general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War married Lucy from a wealthy British loyalist family and the heir to an expansive property in the Eastern District of Massachusetts known as Maine (now Knox County). Gerard, who has written many historical books and is a curator at the Library of Congress, will discuss this intriguing true story on Thursday, September 7 at 6 p.m. as part of the James Brown Lecture Series. (In memory of James Brown who, for many years, was the chair of Foxcroft Academy’s English department as well as the president of the Thompson Free Library Association.)

Come celebrate TFL’s 125th anniversary from 2-4 p.m. on September 9, the very day in 1898 that the library was originally dedicated. There will also be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the outdoor pavilion that was constructed this spring and summer—and has, according to library director Jon Knepp, “greatly improved our ability to hold programs and host groups in the wonderful outdoor space at the library.” Local musicians Hunt and Allison Smith will provide an incredible soundtrack for the event with their original and traditional tunes. Inside TFL, there will be an open house displaying some of the artifacts and pictures of the library throughout its history. Light refreshments and a cake will be served. This celebration is free and open to the public.

Youth services librarian Michelle Fagan teams up with Penquis Cap’s Jennifer Cook to present “Family Fun Night” on Tuesday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m. Activities include games and crafts. Snacks will be provided, and all are welcome. (This ongoing program will be held the 2nd Tuesday of each month.)

Nature documentaries are more spectacular than ever thanks to drones. If you’re captivated by these hi-tech devices that have flown into most aspects of our lives, come to “Drone Photography 101” with Blaine Chadwick on Thursday, September 14 at 1:30 p.m. in TFL’s outdoor pavilion. Blaine, who owns 3Rivers Unmanned Aerial Service in Milo, will talk about the history of commercial drone use, how he uses his drone to help highlight the area’s diversity and beauty, and the role drones play in real estate and land assessment. He’ll also give a demonstration (weather permitting)!

Many of us who grew up in Maine mill towns look back and wonder how all the smoke and chemicals affected the health of residents. If this topic resonates, join us as author Marie Thérèse Martin (who goes by Terry) stops by TFL on Thursday, September 21 at 6 p.m. to talk about her memoir And Poison Fell from the Sky. Terry grew up grateful for the paper mill that buoyed the economy of her small Maine town, providing jobs for hundreds of local workers, but years later when she was a nurse and her husband a doctor, they began to believe that the area’s sky-high cancer rates were caused by the smoke and chemicals that billowed from the mill’s stacks. They sounded an alarm which began a long and bitter fight “to expose the devil’s bargain their hometown had struck with the mill.”

Tom Lyford is the colorful manifestation of the library’s past, present, and future rolled into one. The former TFL staffer, and current bon vivant volunteer, has decided to regale us with a Bonus 101 entitled “The Boss of Me: A Personal Resume Told through Stories and Poems” on Thursday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. Tom calls it “a tongue-in-cheek mini-memoir detailing my supposed work-life from Day 1 (birth) to the present.” (And he swears that this will “probably, most-likely, undoubtedly—well, maybe—no, really” be his final program.)

The themes of small-town life and relationships and their complexities ripple through Shannon Bowring’s character-driven debut novel, The Road to Dalton. Shannon, who grew up in northern Maine and works in the Patten Free Library in Bath, visits TFL on Thursday, September 28 at 6 p.m. Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez, describes her novel as “Paved with beauty, grace, humility, and love . . . a triumphant work that reminds us what literature should be.”

And it was a love of books and learning that inspired the building of this library as a gift to the community. It’s become a dynamic hub of activity as well as the keeper of an impressive collection. Just as Dr. Thompson did over a century ago, TFL is making choices today that will make life better for our future selves, individually and collectively. It’s an exciting time for us and we want to share it with you!

TFL hours: Tues & Thurs 9-7, Weds & Fri 9-5, & Sat 9-1. Visit our website:, our Facebook page, Instagram @tf_library, or contact us at or 207/564-3350. All programs are free & open to the public. When possible, we hold events in our outdoor pavilion and livestream them via Facebook.