A Historical Tour of the Wagnalls Memorial


Explore our historic building in Lithopolis, Ohio, with The Wagnalls Memorial Library Tour Series.

In this virtual tour, learn about Library Founder, Mabel Wagnalls-Jones, and her parents, Anna and Adam Wagnalls of Funk & Wagnalls fame.

Discover their connections to notable public figures of the early 20th century, including: writer O.Henry, painter Norman Rockwell, escapist Houdini, poet Edwin Markham, and explorer Joshua Slocum. See the treasured mementos from these famous figures.

Learn about the construction of the library and the inspiration behind its Tudor-Gothic design, including the purpose of the mysterious tower rooms.

Most of all, learn why Mabel gifted this extraordinary cultural center to a small farming village — a decision her affluent friends doubted up to the dedication of the building on Memorial Day Weekend, 1925.

Come along as resident historian, Carol Gaal, transforms herself into Mabel Wagnalls-Jones and guides us through the history of The Wagnalls Memorial.


Tour Introduction



Listen as resident historian, Carol Gaal, tells us more about Mabel Wagnalls, the founder of the Wagnalls Memorial Library, her family background, and how the library came to be.

The Reading Room



How did Adam Wagnalls and Anna Willis meet? How did Mabel become so interested in writing and music? How did the publishing company, Funk & Wagnalls, come to be? What is the history behind the Literary Digest magazine and library treasures associated with it? Hear about these things and more as "Mabel" visits us from the 1920s to guide us through the history of this remarkable library.

The Foyer



Norman Rockwell, O. Henry, and Gravestones -- Oh, my! This video showcases the Wagnalls Memorial’s Norman Rockwell paintings, reveals how O. Henry and Mabel became best friends, and asks who was the "Tombstone Lady" of Lithopolis. Learn all this and more from "Mabel" herself, in this third video of our tour series, taking place in The Foyer!

The Original Library



Come explore the jewel in the library's crown -- the original library, mostly unchanged from its founding in 1925. Hear how this transfixing, Tudor-Gothic building came to be -- who thought up such a beautiful design, what inspired it, and what are the meanings behind its intricate symbols?

The Formal Entrance Hall



Through the curved, wooden door of the original library is where you'll find the winding stone stairs leading to the Tower and many of Mabel's most treasured possessions. Come along as Mabel herself visits us all the way from the 1920s, telling tales of her dear father, her far-flung travels, and stories of her famous friends: Harry Houdini and Joshua Slocum (author of Sailing Alone Around the World).

The Theater



This video is all about our Theater – the rich history behind it and some of its hidden secrets. There's even an extra tidbit about famous painter (and friend of Mabel) John Dunsmore. You don’t want to miss exploring this cultural gem.

The Social Hall



Do you know why the social hall was Mabel’s most cherished part of the library? Hear why this room was so dear to Mabel’s heart. For information on renting our fully-equipped catering facility, please visit www.wagnallsfoundation.org.

The Tower



Join us for the last part of our tour series: The Tower! Ascend the stairs with Mabel as she reveals the tower’s most fascinating treasures.