By Pamela Pyms
The historic Lanier Library, opened in 1890, is the oldest civic organization in Tryon. The LeDuc sisters and their friends decided over tea one day that the town needed a lending library. “Men weren’t even invited to be a part of the library until the 1930s,” says Peter Franklin, executive officer of the library. The library is a landmark in Tryon, and its stately ambience is felt the moment one enters any of its spacious rooms, now a repository of great books and artifacts of Tryon. It is one of only 16 remaining membership libraries in the country, and Tryon is by far the smallest community in the nation to host one.
“The most exciting thing about this library is you never really know who is going to walk through the door,” says Franklin. Last year it was Mary Alice Monroe who stepped through the front door to inquire about membership, having recently purchased a home in Tryon. Monroe is a New York Times bestselling author, whose work is primarily known for connecting the Low Country of South Carolina and environmental issues. Last summer, the Lanier Library was the kickoff point for her latest book, The Summer Guests.
“She approached us with a great idea,” says Franklin. “Due to her connections with so many other writers, she has started an informal artist-in-residence program, whereby both established authors and up-and-coming writers can reside with her in Tryon and write for a few weeks. That evolved into her vision of doing a series of programs with the library called Conversations with Mary Alice Monroe and Friends.” Monroe will facilitate conversations with specific writers, held at the Tryon Theatre, followed by a reception at the Lanier Library including wine, hors d’oeuvres and cake.
The first conversation will take place on Saturday, November 23, at 4 p.m. with the late Pat Conroy’s wife, Cassandra King Conroy, a well-established author in her own right. She will be discussing her new book, Tell Me a Story, stories of life with her husband. “So now we have the trifecta: a large group who love Mary Alice Monroe, a second group equally devoted to the works of Cassandra King (who now adds Conroy to her name) and the memory of Pat Conroy, truly one of the most beloved authors in the South,” says Franklin. “We have the opportunity to have a conversation between these established writers, as they mill around with the Lanier Library’s members and guests. It really doesn’t get any better than that.”