Marvin Memorial Library began as a reading room for men and boys who worked in the factories June 4, 1897 in a small rented room at the Sutter-Higgins block on East Main Street. Miss Carrie Marvin was hired as the first librarian of the 300 book collection. The librarian’s uncle, Daniel Marvin, took interest in the reading room and saw a need for better accommodations. He purchased a house on West Whitney Avenue for $6,500 and presented it to the city. Marvin never lived in the home. The Classic Revival and Greek Revival house was originally built in 1867 by Dr. William Riley Bricker, who was a physician.
Daniel Marvin was a veteran of the Civil War. He participated in the battles of Shiloh & Stones River, and was severely wounded. His generosity to the city was greatly appreciated and memorialized in the name of the library.
At the dedication, Shelby Mayor B. F. Long said of Daniel Marvin, “As I look at the beautiful grounds, commodious buildings and see how nicely the rooms have been papered, carpeted and furnished, it is with a feeling of admiration that one single individual out of the depths of his generosity and philanthropy had made such bounties a possibility. I am not here to make a speech but I wish to voice my sentiments and the sentiments of every individual within the limits of this municipality when I say that Hon. Daniel Marvin has erected a monument to moral and intellectual progress of Shelby and unconsciously one to himself which will be more enduring than brass or marble.”
The library has made renovations and additions over the years:
- 1904 – Front portico and columns added – Marvin thought the house needed a grander entrance.
- 1909 – front porch remodeled
- 1925 – room addition to north side of house
- 1964 – new addition built to west of house, which included a basement work space, storage for newspapers and periodicals, and restrooms.
- 1987 – original section named to the National Register of Historic Places
- 1990 – latest addition added, which included additional work space and a new circulation desk, elevator and new staircase to the basement, and new entrance and foyer.