June 06, 2020

Greenville public library rich in wealth of `friends’ > Card-carrying patrons number 1,000

GREENVILLE — Shaw Public Library has lots of “friends” if you count the more than 1,000 people who have cards there.

The Friends of the Shaw Public Library, a new library support group, was formed late last year at the request of the trustees of the library.

Racheal Corsa, president of the Friends, said that the group intended to help increase and extend the library’s services to everyone.

As an adjunct to the board of trustees, the Friends will help provide financial aid for purchasing items which can’t be provided for in the budget. The Friends will encourage memorials, endowments and gifts of all kinds.

The Friends of the Shaw Public Library and the Hughes family will be co-hosts at an open house at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Hillside Gardens on Blair Hill in Greenville.

The occasion will celebrate the 100 years since Hillside Gardens first was occupied and to acquaint visitors with the goals of the Friends. During the reception, guests will be welcome to tour the home.

Mary Hughes and her daughter, Marty, who reside at Hillside Gardens, also operate a bed and breakfast facility on the premises.

The home first was occupied by Lyman Blair and his wife in 1891. Blair, according to reports, had become a wealthy man, making his fortune in wheat, gold and railroads. He frequently came to Greenville from the Midwest for health reasons.

While in Greenville, he married Cornelia McFarlane, who died in 1923. After her death, Blair created a rock garden in her memory.

In addition to being one of the largest homes in the area, it was for many years one of the largest working farms. Blair imported and raised animals which he sold to, Great Northern Paper Co., among others. He also raised a multitude of flowers for which Hillside Gardens was named.

An article in The Northern, a magazine published in 1928 by GNP stated: “The place borrowed the name of the friendly man who had his house here. It is known as Blair Hill. World famous is its view and such a sight belongs to the world.” The article stated that Blair had a welcome sign by the stone gateway that guarded the flower-fringed entrance to his home. The welcome was to all who passed within his gates to view the lake and to see the flowers.

Mary Hughes and her family believe that the gates to Hillside Gardens should be opened again in remembrance of the Blairs. According to Corsa, it seems appropriate to have the Friends of the Shaw Public Library take part in the affair, which is being held for the community.

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