The Cossitt Library— Memphis’ first public library— opened at the corner of Front and Monroe in 1893. Fashioned as a Romanesque monument, its red sandstone structure was, at the time, the most photographed landmark in the city. In 1958, the city undertook an attempt at modernization, resulting in two connected, but distinctly different buildings. Because of its physical location, the library and its grounds offer some of the best views of the riverfront in the entire city, though today that goes largely unrealized due to limited public access in key viewing areas.
At the Cossitt, we will build on the library’s existing initiatives— such as computer classes, science programs, and job assistance workshops— while also creating a framework for exciting new programs to bring this library into the 21st Century.
It will be a space not only for traditional learning, but also a space where the community can grow together and explore different types of learning, be it through reading, the arts, music, discussion, or personal connection.
Flexible furnishings and design will create a scalable space that can be transformed easily to suit many different events and programs, from large open spaces for dance classes, theater, and more, to smaller studio spaces and breakaway rooms for more intimate events.
The Cossitt will expand the reach of the arts, grow local talent, and provide ready access to public services. This Fourth Bluff stalwart will be a genuine draw for Memphians from all walks of life.