Sims Library opened to the public in 1905, funded with a private endowment from Nicholas P. Sims. It was one of the first 10 public libraries in Texas.
Sims Library was built during 1903 - 1904 after a local farmer and investor named Nicholas P. Sims left the bulk of his estate for the establishment of a library for the people of Waxahachie and Ellis County. The land for the new library was given to the city of Waxahachie by its first mayor, Captain W. H. Getzendaner. The site where the library is located was once known as Getzendaner Park. Sims Library opened to the public on April 26, 1905 and has stayed open continuously since then. Sims Library was one of the first 10 public libraries constructed in Texas, and one of the first privately endowed libraries in the state.
The architect, S. Weymes Smith of Fort Worth, designed the library building in the classical Renaissance style featuring Tiffany enameled bricks on the outside, copper cornices above the windows, and massive Doric columns. The central part of the library and the front foyer feature white Vermont marble. Other features include a pressed tin ceiling, a curved area in the back of the non-fiction section with a bay window effect, and a winding staircase leading to the basement (the staircase is now closed to the public). The circulation desk on the main floor is an original oak piece, with replicas of this desk located in the Children's and Reference areas.
Sims Library has many of the original tables, chairs, and books from the collection that were part of the library when it first opened nearly a century ago. The original cost of the library in 1905 was $24,980 for the building, $5,540 for books, and $3,734 for furniture for a total cost of approximately $34,255. Today the library houses a collection of more than 127,896 books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, books on tape, books on CD, microfilm, microfiche, videos, DVDs, puzzles, and other materials.
The library building also includes a Lyceum, which is a large auditorium with a stage located on the second floor, which is still used today for concerts, piano recitals, plays, debates, and other events for the community. W. B. Reymuller, an artist and store painter from Waxahachie, provided decorations for the lyceum in 1904. The Lyceum ceiling is pressed tin, and the Proscenium arch is made of plaster and hand-painted in gold leaf. The center of the arch contains the initials of the building's architect, S. Weymes Smith. The bronze light fixtures are originals. The Lyceum seats 277 people, and each seat has a hat rack underneath. Nearly all fixtures in the Lyceum are original except the stage floor, the window drapes and shades, and the fabric covering the walls, which have been replaced over the years. The Lyceum was repainted in 2000 in the original colors. A gift from Mrs. Herbert (Hetty) Peters enabled the library to add air conditioning and heating to the Lyceum in 1992. If you would like to use the Lyceum for an event, contact the library staff at (972) 937-2671 or in person at the library.
Location & Mailing Address
Nicholas P. Sims Library
515 W. Main
Waxahachie, TX 75165
Telephone and Fax numbers
Telephone: (972) 937-2671
Fax: (972) 937-4409