The Transylvania Club was organized on October 23, 1908 in the home of the founder, Mrs. C. B. Chapman. Originally the club had 26 charter members with their motto being “Service, not for ourselves but for others”. At the Club’s second meeting in January 1909, President Mary Tarbutton recommended and the members voted that the Club establish a public library as its primary project. President Tarbutton’s dream for a library caught fire in the hearts of the club members. During the months that followed, the energetic club members organized many different types of fundraisers to benefit the proposed library including silver teas, musicals, home talent plays, and ice cream festivals.
Through the hard work of the Transylvania girls and the benevolence of the Friends of the Library, the little library grew and soon expanded to a collection of over 7,000 volumes. The library opened May 12, 1909 in the Masonic Building (drawing far left, above, by Mrs. John “Suzy“ Wilson) which was located on the town square. It was housed there until 1921 when a fire destroyed the building and most of its contents. Undaunted, the members began anew, and in 1925 the Transylvania Club bought the antebellum home and law office of Colonel Richard Lee Warthen for $6,000. This building, also located on the square in Sandersville, continued to house the library until 1998 (image in center, above).
The Transylvania Club‘s continued support of the library was so successful that a new building with state of the art technology was built in 1998. In the ninetieth year since the Club’s founding, the Rosa M. Tarbutton Memorial Library (image far right, above) opened. The new library was named for one of the Club’s most beloved members. The Rosa M. Tarbutton Memorial Library, located on South Harris Street, is now the official public library of Washington County. Today, the Library has a collection of over 48,000 volumes and the last fiscal year the facility had 50,919 visitors. Today the Transylvania Club continues to be a major benefactor of the Rosa M. Tarbutton Memorial Library through the proceeds earned on the sale of the Historic Georgia plates. The previous home of the Sandersville Public Library is maintained by the Club as the Transylvania Building. The Club still meets in part of the building and leases the newer part to a local business.