McMillan Memorial Library, Banda Street

Opened in 1931, this library was built by Lady Lucy McMillan as a memorial to her husband, Sir Northrup McMillan, who died in 1925. The oldest library in Nairobi and the second oldest in Kenya, it is the only building in Kenya protected by an Act of Parliament; The McMillan Memorial Library Act Cap 217 of 1938 (revised in 2012). Limited to use by Europeans only in its first three decades, the library was bequeathed to the Nairobi City Council and opened to the general public in the lead-up to Independence in 1962. 

McMillan, like most settlers, had a penchant for lions. He kept a pet lion in his Juja farm and hunted many during his lifetime. The two lions that ‘guard’ at the entrance of the library were gifted by his cousin, Sir John Harrington when the library was being built. There is, however, another story about two lions and a famous president. Read it here. Branches of this library would in later decades be opened in Waithaka, Kayole, Makadara and Kaloleni. Of these four, only the Makadara and Kaloleni ones are in use to date;