© Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester MA

Samuel Sawyer was a great Gloucester philanthropist. A very successful ship owner and merchant, Mr. Sawyer donated Gloucester’s City Hall clock and bell. He bought up woodlots to preserve the 600-acre Ravenswood Park. He founded the City’s first free library, complete with an art gallery filled with personally chosen works from Europe as well as from Cape Ann.

At the library’s dedication he said, the “prominent motive or object of my life (is) to do something to promote the best interests of the young….Books are the food of the mind….” Sawyer founded a competition to reward outstanding students at a time when many young people left school to work on the wharves. The Sawyer Medal is still awarded to Gloucester public school students annually and remains a prestigious honor.

Among the library’s collections are local oral histories, and the fine art on display includes Fitz Henry Lane paintings. Ravenswood Park is located on scenic Rte 127 in Magnolia and is open to the public.
  • Frederick Lincoln Stoddard 1934 WPA/FAP Murals Now

    On view at the Sawyer Free Library Saunders House. Stoddard also completed WPA murals and frescoes for the rotunda and mayor's office of St. Louis City Hall. Here in Gloucester, local artist, Howard Curtis, was hired as Stoddard's assistant. Curtis played a devoted and important role in Gloucester's art community for over 50 years. Photographs of the Sawyer Free Library's Gloucester Stoddard WPA murals © Melissa Nicastro

  • Right, It's Not Like the Old Days, 1896 (PDF)

    Author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps on residents and rubes. Courtesy of Sawyer Free Library

  • Sawyer Free Library Interior Photo Shoot, 1945

    Sawyer Free Library. photograph © 1945 B. Anthony Stewart Kodachrome, National Geographic, showing Stoddard mural and staircase, Thomas Saunders mansion, now Sawyer Free Library

  • Sawyer Free Library Moments

    Former seaman and Olympic champion, James B. Connolly, lived in Gloucester for a short time. He was one of many famous writers to make a return visit.

  • Ravenswood Park Hermit's Quest (PDF)

    The Trustees of Reservations: Ravenswood Park, Gloucester, MA Hermit's Haven Quest