The Philomenian Debating Society was organized in 1828 and the members agreed to pay one dollar a year toward a fund to start a library. That library and another lending library on Conanicut Island were combined in November 1874 to create the Jamestown Philomenian Library. The Library moved from private homes, to the back of the town hall, to an empty school. In 1971, a building to house the Library was erected on the present site. In 1993, a $1.4 million addition was erected to house our collection of roughly 35,000 volumes. It includes a meeting hall which accommodates 125 people.
What's a Philomenian Anyway?
This is a coined word. In the 1840's, debating and cultural societies were common in communities around the country. One such organization met here on Jamestown starting in 1847. The root "philo" is often used in English words to mean "love of". However, no Greek derivation can be found for the "menian" part of the word. It is thought that the people of the time just added syllables without meaning in choosing the names of this and similar societies. There was a Philermenian Society, Philandrian Society and a Philophysian Society at Brown University during the same period.