In 1898, Pawtucket’s first Mayor, Frederic Clark Sayles offered to give a plot of land on Summer Street for the construction of a free public library. He traveled to Europe, looking for architectural inspiration from Europe’s most majestic libraries. The corner stone was laid on November 18, 1899. On October 15, 1902 the library that he built for the free use of the people of Pawtucket was opened and formally dedicated in memory of his late wife, Deborah Cook Sayles.
The Sayles Building is an impressive example of Greek revival architecture. It was built of the finest-grained white granite, from the quarries at North Jay, Maine. Four massive Ionic columns form a portico at the former entrance. The front doorway of this building is an exact replica of the Erechtheion, a Greek temple on the Acropolis at Athens. The architects were Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson of Boston. Six panels by sculptor Lee Laurie of New York decorate the front of the building. The panels show a comprehensive view of the world’s civilizations. The panels depict scenes from Roman, Grecian, Egyptian, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and Teutonic civilizations. The Library is known for its decorative ceilings, soaring pillars, and glass-floored North balcony. [http://web.provlib.org/pawlib/ourhistory.htm]