"It's amazing how many people don't know who Mary Hawley was," says volunteer Marie Smith. "We have some people that have come into this room for the very first time. It's not always open, especially at night when movies are playing."
The room is open until 5 p.m. to honor Hawley on what would have been her 156th birthday. Cookies and a guestbook are available, and experts on Hawley are available to answer questions about her life -- and her gifts to Newtown.Hawley was Newtown's "beloved benefactress," as Edmond Town Hall's Sheila Torres describes her. Born in 1857, she moved to Newtown after the death of her grandfather, Cyrenius H. Booth (the namesake for Booth Library.) By the time she died, she had secured a host of buildings for the future of Newtown -- including the Hawley School, the library and Edmond Town Hall itself, where she laid the first brick.
"Everybody born and brought up here learns about her," says town historian Dan Cruson. "And as people move in, they come into contact with her."
Cruson has written and studied Hawley extensively, and his work is available for persual today in the Hawley Room -- just to the right of the Edmond Town Hall main entrance -- or at the library.
Ann Benore used to work in the town clerk's office when it was in Edmond Town Hall. Today, she's signing the guestbook in the Mary Hawley room while on a routine visit. She's come to the Mary Hawley Room's open house on her past birthdays.
"This was something they always did which I thought was so great," she says. "It was so wonderful of her to give this building to the town."
Next to the guestbook, a variety of books -- including the pamphlet Cruson wrote on Hawley's life -- and a vase of gladiolas.
"Glads were her favorite -- that's why we have them," said Smith.
For more information on Hawley, see the Newtown Historical Society or the Mary Hawley Society websites.