Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Exploring an Extra Special Place

I know there are great libraries everywhere, but ours, the Bay Minette Public Library, is extra special, so I  want to share it  with you today.  I will start  with a few pics of the exterior, then a little history.

Does it look a little bit like a church?  Well, there's a reason for that. It was originally constructed in 1914 to serve as the First Baptist Church of Bay Minette.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1988) and even though it underwent a major renovation that was completed in 1997, it still maintains that authentic vintage character that makes the structure so special.  It has some amazing stained glass windows that are even more beautiful from the inside...those pics appear later on in the post. 

What was once the side of the church is now the main entrance to the library, and what was once the front entrance to the church is now the courtyard entrance.  The courtyard is a special little slice of paradise with benches and a giant rusty metal flower sculpture surrounded by a garden of colorful seasonal flowers.  There's another sculpture of children on a bench, and a table if you want to sit and relax with a cup of coffee from the coffee bar inside.  Oh, and if you have your computer with you, there's wifi available.  

It is a beautiful structure, but some pretty fantastic things happen inside these walls, too. So let's step inside...

This is the view straight ahead as you enter through the main door...the circulation desk is downstairs and those are shelves of books on the upper level.  The children's room is through that door that you can see in the upstairs right-hand corner.  The half round stained glass window up at the top in the center was recycled from the original structure.  

The staff does a great job decorating for the seasons and special holidays.  We happen to be right in the middle of the Mardi Gras at the moment.  This fun tree is just to the left as you step inside.

Now, I'm going to share with you the stained glass windows from the inside.  This is what takes my breath away.  The sun was shining beautifully for me the day I went inside with the camera, and it makes the glass glow. Just look...

Look who I found sitting in one of the gorgeous windows!  It's none other than my friend, Joanna Bailey, aka the most extraordinary library director in the world!  She has been caring for the library with much love for eleven years now, and it's apparent when she talks about her library that she is passionate about her work.  She is a vibrant, gorgeous, sweet soul, and I am fortunate to call her my friend.  On a normal day, you won't find her sitting around in windows - she did that for me.  

Here are some pics of interesting nooks and crannies throughout the library.

...and some relics, artwork and other objects that are on permanent display and may be viewed from the upper floor.

Now, get ready for a magical tour as we step into the children's room, where well known children's stories are painted in vignettes all the way around the room.  (Artist, Tena Powell)

This one is my favorite.  Jack is climbing on the top of a bookcase up the beanstalk!  

To learn more about the operational aspects of the library, please visit the website here. And, to see some great vintage photographs (by John Sledge) of the structure when it was a church, follow this link to a pdf file.  It's neat to look at the old pics and compare them to pics of the renovated structure.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of our library.  If you're ever in our neck of the woods, stop in and have a look around.   There's so much more to see, and Joanna is always adding more to make it even better.  Is that even possible?

In closing, I'll leave you with this thought by Sidney Sheldon.



  1. Such a beautiful place to curl up with a good book! I'm so glad they've left the original character of the church, but modified it to be a library. Great character (both the building and in the stories!).

    1. Yes, it is a great place to hang out with a good book. It's one of Bay Minette's gems, for sure. Thank you for reading!

  2. Lovely article. I have lots of fond memories of hanging out with Luke at the library. He loved exploring and I enjoyed the great books. Beautiful building too. Love your photos!

    - Nick C

    1. Hi Nick! Thanks for the nice comment. It was easy to write about such good subject matter.
      Hope you all are well. I know Luke must be growing like a weed. Please tell Rebecca hello for me.