To preserve the Stone Building and explore constructive reuse by researching the feasibility of alternative uses for the building, thereby supporting future Town investment to implement the preservation recommendations of the 2009 Historic Structure Report or such recommendations as may subsequently be made.
The Stone Building was built in 1833 by Eli Robbins, a civic leader in East Lexington, to serve as a lyceum lecture hall and residence. The Lyceum was an early form of adult education that became popular in the 1830s. Lyceum lectures at first avoided political talks, but by the late 1840, leaders in the Abolition movement, excluded from speaking elsewhere in town, spoke here including Theodore Parker and Charles Sumner.
In 1835, the Lyceum Hall became the site of religious services for the residents of East Lexington, led first by Charles Follen and subsequently by Ralph Waldo Emerson and others until the neighboring Follen Church was completed in 1839. The Stone Building also served as a residence for a number of individuals, including Ellen Stone, who sold the building to the Cary Library in 1892. The building served as a branch library throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.
The Stone Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural merit as an example of Greek Revival architecture and for its association with the Robbins family and the development of East Lexington. The building’s exterior and the original lecture hall on the second floor are largely unchanged from their 19th-century appearance.
In 2007 a burst pipe caused interior damage and resulted in the closure of the branch library. A restoration and preservation report was prepared in 2009.
The Committee includes 9 members with various community and professional backgrounds from across Lexington. To define a purposeful and compelling use for the Stone Building in the 21st century, the committee will collaborate with the community to consider possibilities for the building’s restoration and future sustainability. Recommendations will be presented to the Select Board for consideration on best uses and subsequent investment and restoration.