In January 1845, the Mercantile Library building caught fire, and the Library was suddenly without a home. Our members took up a collection, and were able to contribute $10,000 to the cost of rebuilding.
In exchange, we were granted a 10,000 year lease on our space. This extraordinary lease was negotiated by Alphonso Taft, future Attorney General and Secretary of War (and father to William Howard Taft). Just to show that everyone involved had a great sense of humor, the lease is renewable... at the same terms. (We've got Guinness' St James' Gate Brewery lease beat by 1,000 years.)
Which finds us, nearly 180 years and a couple of buildings later, where we are now, living under the same lease. Our current rooms are a historic and architectural marvel — light, airy, and acoustically breathtaking.
Our Reading Room is an ideal place to read quietly, get some work done, or have a nice relaxed lunch away from your desk. It's also a great place for a concert, a film screening, a poetry reading, a book discussion, and author talk, a cocktail reception, a dance party.
And we're taking over the 12th Story, which will allow us to become the best Library in the country. Maybe the world.
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