In 1929, Mr. Earle W. Webb, Sr., CEO of Ethyl Corporation in NYC and native Morehead City resident, began construction of a commercial building on the corner of 9th and Evans Streets in downtown Morehead City, North Carolina.
For the first few years, the building had doctors' offices downstairs and a training facility for the local garment factory upstairs. When the upstairs noise became too much for the downstairs occupants, the garment factory left. Mrs. Webb, a member of the Morehead Woman's Club, asked her husband if the club could move its 300 book library to one of the upstairs rooms. When he agreed, the library was moved.
A few years later in 1936, the Webbs' son, Earle W. Webb, Jr., became ill and died. In honor of their son, Mr. and Mrs. Webb dedicated the building as the Earle W. Webb Jr. Memorial Library and Civic Center and opened it to all the citizens of Morehead City for community use.
Mr. Webb's generosity provided funding for the library until 2003, when the trust was no longer viable. At that time several interested citizens petitioned the town of Morehead City for help. The town council agreed to help with the day-to-day costs while a steering committee researched the level of interest in the community to maintain a library and gathering place for its citizens. The steering committee recommended that the town take over full support of the library and in 2006 the town and the Webb family entered into a 99-year lease that would allow the town to operate and maintain the library while the Webb Family Trust would keep the building. In 2007, the city and the Webb family reached an agreement whereby the city assumed control of and responsibility for funding the library.
The relationship continued until January 2022 when the library was moved from the Webb Building to the recently vacated Town of Morehead City Municipal Building, a building constructed in 1926 and utilized for town purposes since that time. The building was vacated in September 2021 when staff from several city facilities moved to the newly constructed City Hall allowing a new home for the library. The name of the library was changed concurrent with the move. The Morehead City Library provides services for locals and visitors from all over North Carolina and beyond. The book collection has grown to over 15,000 holdings (including books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, and electronic devices) and there are four public-use computers, meeting rooms, and public wi-fi access. In August 2022, the library celebrated its 88th year of service to the public.