A library system began in Chester, Illinois in 1891, but did not move into its permanent and current location until 1928. The beautiful home of the Chester Public Library was a gift to the city and citizens of Chester from the influential Charles B. Cole and his family. Construction of the building designed by E. A. Crippen and made of Indiana limestone blocks began in 1927. It was completed by in early 1928.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cole passed away on March 13, 1928 before the new library building could be dedicated. As the community went into mourning over the loss of such a prominent member, a public funeral was planned to be held in the new library building. It seems fitting that the first public use of the library was to honor the much loved citizen whose purpose in life was to bring civic improvement to Chester through a magnificent library. Mr. Cole's portrait hangs in the library today.
The dedication of the Chester Public Library occurred on April 22, 1928 and immediately became a focal point in the community. Over the years, the library has undergone numerous changes including a building expansion that was completed in 1990. The project doubled the size of the original building but maintained the architectural beauty and integrity of the existing structure.
In addition to the historical building that stands as a monument to the memory of Mr. Cole, in 2011 the Chester Public Library was added to the Popeye Character Trail. A statue of the Popeye comic's character, Cole Oyl (Olive Oyl's father) who was created from the library's benefactor, Mr. Charles B. Cole. The statue was placed the front yard of the library for all to enjoy.
As the community has grown and the world has changed, the Chester Public Library has remained a dignified and beautiful setting. Citizens and visitors alike can enjoy the historic building while using the free Wi-Fi, or enjoying a program in the newly updated community room. The Chester Public Library remains dedicated to "Preserving Tradition, Transforming the Future".