Sawyer Free 2025 Challenge Campaign Exceeds All Expectations

An updated architect’s rendering, released in November, looks northwest from Mason Street at the new Sawyer Free Library. It depicts angled portions of corbeled brick, which echo the existing corbelling between the windows at each floor of the original building. According to architect Matt Oudens, “With this newly added detail, we’re trying to reinterpret some of the elements of the Monell structure that people like, and this repetition of vertically grouped windows with a projected frame around them, along with the corbeled brick, makes for some interesting play of light and shadow.”

Gloucester just got 400,000 steps closer to having a new public library. A $100,000 matching challenge grant from an anonymous donor sparked a huge outpouring of generosity from Cape Ann residents and citizens of Gloucester in support of the sawyerfree2025.org campaign. With the final number still being tallied as checks postmarked by December 31 continue to arrive, the six-figure threshold was met, exceeded and then obliterated, concluding a 10-week race to raise the sum. With the bulk of donations coming in the waning days of 2022, a stunning $319,000 in charitable giving has flooded in. All told, close to 400 donors helped raise more than $400,000—including the match—for Gloucester’s new public library.

“Everyone involved in the campaign is utterly speechless,” said Barry Weiner, a retired attorney and the campaign chair for Sawyer Free 2025. “We were sitting at around $90,000 cash-in-hand with a few days to go, but everyone who had made pledges kept their promise. I kept hearing that the last three days of the year are when most people do most of their philanthropic giving, but this is simply jaw-dropping. We’re at $419,000 and counting. Truth be told, I think it would have been unrealistic to expect this kind of response.”

Inspired by Gloucester’s fully philanthropic capital campaign to fund a comprehensive renovation, modernization and expansion of Cape Ann’s oldest public library building, a private, out-ot-town family foundation launched the $100,000 matching challenge grant on October 18 of last year, giving Gloucester a 75-day window to meet the moment. The Sawyer Library Foundation, the fundraising arm of the campaign, has now helped to secure $15.4 million in donations and grant awards, including more than a million dollars since the public launch of the campaign this past May. 

The Sawyer Free 2025 project’s total cost is $29 million, a sum that includes built-in inflation costs through the completion of the project in 2025. Sawyer Free Library provides a lifeline of resources serving people from all walks of life, but it was beset by severe limitations of space, navigation, technology and mobility-device access. The Sawyer Library Foundation is committed to rallying all of Cape Ann to make the modernization of a beloved institution a reality, creating a space that will reflect the institution’s importance to the community.

The most advanced Western democracies have embraced the fact that modern libraries are a nexus of education, community, innovation, economic advancement, technology, wellness, civic engagement, assimilation, belonging, preventative care, climate justice, lifelong learning, research and free programming. Gloucester is now closer than ever to joining this revolution. To learn more, visit sawyerfree2025.org.

✓ How do I contact Sawyer Free 2025?

info@sawyerfree2025.org

media@sawyerfree2025.org

Call 978.225.0363 or 978.225.0915

Facebook: Sawyer Free 2025

Instagram: Sawyer Free 2025

YouTube: Sawyer Library Foundation 2025

✓ How Do I Give to Sawyer Free 2025?

  • Visit sawyerfree2025.org
  • Text to donate: Text “325182” to 1-855-575-7888 and select an amount
  • Checks: SF2025, 2 Dale Ave., Gloucester, 01930 (Checks payable to: “Sawyer Library Foundation”)
  • Volunteer! Reach out if you want to pitch in at the library or with the capital campaign, either in person or virtually. Help your neighbors, serve your community and share your expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work you do for us, you are contributing in invaluable ways.

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