Books, Programs, Art & History
We lovingly call the EPL “A Community Center with Books” for the human connections we make and the programs we offer, but we’re also a bit of an art museum! The library is housed in a historic landmark with artwork and artifacts dating back over 160 years!
Constructed in 1858, the New England Masonic Charitable Institute (Town Hall-Library) is the current home of Charter Oak Masonic Lodge #58. On the second floor of our building, there is a Masonic Temple that features hand-painted wall and ceiling murals original to the hall, including The Three Graces, Two Pillars with Stairs, and Lamb Grazing (shown here).
The trompe l’oeil murals were created by fresco painter Philip A. Butler who is believed to have labored for two years on the project. It is said that Butler would mix sour milk into his watercolors and tint them with roots and berries. (Historically, milk is not an unusual ingredient in paint!)
Philip Butler would have been 30 at the time of panting the Masonic Hall murals. For years, Butler had a studio in Boston and specialized in fresco and decorative painting for churches and public halls. (We wonder what theaters and churches he may have painted!) Later in life, he turned his focus to landscape painting, and his work was exhibited at the Boston Arts Club and the Art Institute of Chicago.
- View more photos of the Masonic Temple collection at the Effingham History Project.
- The Masons open the temple room to the public at selective times during the year. We will post viewing days on our Facebook page and in our news feed as we find out about them.
- Read a fascinating, illustrated historic assessment of the Town Hall-Library (including more information on artist Philip A. Butler).
- Learn about the preservation efforts of the Historic Town Hall Project.
PHOTO: “Lamb Grazing” mural by Philip A. Butler, 1859. Effingham History Project, https://effingham.omeka.net/items/show/133