Levi Merrick Stewart (1827-1910) was born, raised and attended grade school in Corinna, Maine. In 1856 he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he made his fortune as a real estate lawyer. A noted philanthropist, Stewart built the Stewart Library Building in Corinna as a memorial to his parents.
An avid book collector, Mr. Stewart amassed a personal library of over 6,500 volumes. Upon his death in 1910, the collection was moved to Corinna and placed in the Levi M. Stewart Private Library room in the building. The uncirculated collection, which is not open to the public, is still housed there today.
The private library includes a significant non-fiction collection; books on Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, the Civil War, many other military and political histories and biographies. There is a large collection of law books. There are geographies, travel books with maps and drawings, volumes on science and practical knowledge. Mr. Stewart’s taste also ran to British and American classical and contemporary literature of the time.
The Levi M. Stewart Private Library Project has two goals:
1.To develop museum-quality exhibits within the space to tell the story of Levi M. Stewart, his personal library, his philanthropy, and the Stewart Library Building.
2. To make this significant local resource accessible to researchers and the public for the first time in a fashion that secures and preserves the collection.
This project is intended to serve the residents of the town of Corinna and visitors to the community. The young people of the community are an audience of particular importance to the project. Levi Stewart’s story is relevant today when many young people are leaving small towns in Maine to seek their futures elsewhere. We believed that exposure to the collection, exhibits, and history of Levi M. Stewart will build an appreciation for the history of the community and inspire the next generations to care for the building and the collection into the future.
This project is funded entirely through grants from The National Trust for Historic Preservation – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors, The Maine Humanities Council, The National Historical Publications and Records Commission – Historical Collections Grant Program, and by contributions from Carl and Linda Smith, Eric and Laura Smith, and other donors committed to the preservation of the Levi M. Stewart legacy.