Behind the Story: My Trip to Agnes Scott College

New Years weekend my husband and I went to Columbus, GA to visit family. Besides the AMAZING larp (live action role play) we attended run by S.O.L.A.R.  (I got to play an elven archer/bard=shoot people with foam-tipped arrows and entertain a tavern full of travelers with ocarina music),

LARPing with my hubby

we also got to visit Agnes Scott College’s campus. This college is the setting for my modern fantasy series Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus – the Lily Singer Adventures.

As a quick catch up, I’m writing about an wizard named Lily Singer who’s mundane job is archive management for the library for an exclusive women’s college in Atlanta, GA. Though the settings in my story are based on the real Agnes Scott College, I definitely take creative liberties. So it was simply fascinating to visit the real place and learn all about their history!

McCain Library

The REAL McCain Library

 

Main entrance. Notice the unicorns carved above the door.

Main entrance. Notice the unicorns carved above the door.

 

IMG_2899

The grand reading hall, part of original building dated 1936. I WANT ONE!!!

Founded in 1889, Agnes Scott College’s campus is in Decatur just east of downtown Atlanta. Many of their buildings date back to the early 1900s. The college was originally founded as an elementary school and eventually became a college (check out their website for more details). Even more cool, they have an sizable collection of Robert Frost’s work because he came to visit/speak for them over twenty times throughout his life!

IMG_2938

One of the first elementary school classes of Agnes Scott before it became a college

 

Historical documents/possessions of Mrs Agnes Scott

Historical documents/possessions of Mrs Agnes Scott

Not only did I get to see what I’d been writing about for over a year, but I also got to meet the REAL Lily Singer (Archive Manager) of McCain Library. Her name is Marianne Bradley and she is an absolute dear. After listening delightedly to my explanation of why random strangers were appearing at her office door, she offered to give us an exclusive tour!

Marianne Bradley, the actual archives manager of McCain Library

Marianne Bradley, the actual archives manager of McCain Library. No, she informs me she is not a wizard. Oh well.

She opened up their history room and explained all about Agnes Scott, showed us where the original library was added to and expanded during renovations, and she even unlocked their secure “basement” archive where they keep the Robert Frost material. Unfortunately, there was no broom closet that lead to a magical wizard library hidden inside the real library. That part I made up.

Basement archives. Unfortunately no magical broom closet!

Basement archives. Unfortunately no magical broom closet!

 

The Robert Frost collection!

The Robert Frost collection!

 

Quotes like this were written on all the rafters of the original building.

Quotes like this were written on all the rafters of the original building.

 

Reading cubbyholes on the left, book stacks on the right. Heaven!

Reading cubbyholes on the left, book stacks on the right. Heaven!

 

The resident Gargoyle. What shall we name him?

The resident Gargoyle. What shall we name him?

 

The courtyard, empty and lonely in January.

The courtyard, empty and lonely in January.

Fun fact: McCain Library hasn’t had a REAL archivist for decades. Marianne was a lawyer by trade before she took her position at McCain. After hiring an actual archivist to organize and archive their collection years ago, the college decided they didn’t need one full-time and there went the archivist. The position Marianne fills is more of a management/organization role, especially since so much of their material is now online.

Original building, built in 1936 before courtyard was added and stacks were extended.

Original building, built in 1936 before courtyard was added and stacks were extended.

 

Pictures from the 1940s of students in grand reading room

Pictures from the 1940s of students in grand reading hall

After my spasms of delight over the gorgeous library (look at that architecture!), we walked around campus and spotted one of the Agnes Scott police/security. His name was Lt. Scott and he gleefully told us about some of the resident ghosts (sounds like something I’ll have to incorporate into future novels!). He also confirmed their policy that non-staff men are not allowed to wander around campus without a chaperone and, if spotted, will be asked to leave. It is, after all, a WOMEN’S only college. So, that’s why Sebastian has to stay on his toes if he doesn’t want to get caught when he comes to visit Lily on campus!

After we walked away, my husband swore that was the same security guard who kicked him off of campus multiple times back around 2003 when he dated a girl who went to Agnes Scott. My husband’s experiences at Agnes Scott as well as his native knowledge of Atlanta were the main reasons I choose this location as the setting for my books.

Proof that I was there!

Proof that I was there!

 

View from opposite side of library from the main entrance.

View of opposite side of library from the main entrance.

 

Another building on campus

Another building on campus

So, what do you think? Does the real McCain library look like you imagined it? Is there anything relating to the library/location you’d like to see show up in the books? I’d love to hear your thoughts, just post them below!

Thanks for reading about my adventure. If you’d like to read the first chapter of Book 1, click here. If you’d like to get updates on the release of the first two books in April, plus exclusive news and giveaways, sign up for my newsletter here.