Is Millicent Rogers Buried Beneath the Fairhaven Library That Bears Her Name?
There has been a legend that has persisted in Fairhaven for generations, the tale of a young woman gone too soon whose love of reading led her family to take a most unusual step in order to memorialize her.
As the legend goes, the body of Millicent Rogers is buried beneath the foundation of the library that bears her name – and some believe the Millicent Library is even haunted as a result.
It’s a great story, to be sure. The only problem is, it isn’t true.
Millicent Gifford Rogers was born in 1873, the third child of the five born to Henry Huttleston Rogers and his first wife, Abbie Palmer Gifford. As a child, she loved to draw and read, and she always desired to see a library in the town of Fairhaven.
Her father, H.H. Rogers, was a wealthy oil magnate who had grown up in Fairhaven and still brought his family there in the summer and on the weekends. He was the town’s greatest benefactor, building such great architecture as Fairhaven High School, the Town Hall and the Unitarian Church, among others.
When “Millie” Rogers died of heart failure at the age of 17 in 1890, it only made sense that to honor her memory, the family would build a library in her name that would be donated to the people of Fairhaven.
However, there is no truth to the legend that the library serves as a giant headstone for Millicent Rogers’ grave.
The rumors likely came about because of the quiet and private nature of the ceremony in which the cornerstone was laid. It took place at 6 a.m. on the morning of September 21, 1891. According to the library website, only the family and their clergyman, Rev. J.M. Leighton, were in attendance, with Millicent’s little brother Harry setting the cornerstone following Rev. Leighton’s prayer.
“Within its confines were a sketch of Millicent, a tracing of the Rogers’ ancestry, and a copy of the Fairhaven Star carrying a picture of the proposed building,” the library website states.
Also almost directly above the cornerstone, a giant stain-glass window was erected that features the likeness of Millicent Rogers depicted as the muse of poetry; above her is a portrayal of William Shakespeare, young Millie’s favorite writer.
Because of the shape of the stained-glass window – it has a rounded top and straight sides – some said it resembled the shape of a gravestone, and that led to the legend of it being Millicent Rogers’ headstone for her body buried beneath the library’s cornerstone.
Rumors have persisted for years that the library is haunted. Some feel it is Millie Rogers roaming the three levels of books, thumbing through the stacks and looking for something to read. Others tell tale of a ghostly janitor seen still performing his duties in the basement, still wearing the same uniform he wore to work each day. A persistent legend is that the portraits in the Rogers Room have eyes that will follow you no matter where you go.
In speaking with various library employees over the years, all have denied any evidence of hauntings at the Millicent Library, dismissing it as nothing more than stories.
The truth as to the final resting place of Millicent Rogers is rather straightforward – she is interred in the Rogers family mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery on Main Street.
The mausoleum was constructed in 1893, three years after Millicent's death, and according to the Fairhaven Office of Tourism, “The mausoleum is the final resting place of industrialist and Fairhaven benefactor Henry H. Rogers, his first wife Abbie, three of their children, as well as Rogers’ parents, sister, daughter-in-law Mary, and grandson Henry H. Rogers III.”
When looking through the iron gate into the mausoleum, Millicent’s name, date of birth, and date of death can be seen engraved on the upper left side.
Millicent Rogers’ body may rest in Riverside Cemetery, and her ghost may not be roaming among the stacks of books in the library that was named for her, but her true spirit really does live on each time a Fairhaven resident opens a book and enters its world.
She couldn’t have asked for any greater legacy.
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