The building that today houses the Salem Public Library (370 Essex Street in Salem) was originally built in 1855 as a house for Capt. John Bertram (1795-1882), designed in the Renaissance Revival style by Salem architects William H. Emmerton and Joseph C. Foster. Known as the Bertram-Waters House, in 1887 it was donated by Capt. Bertram’s heirs to the city to become a library. The building was remodeled inside for that purpose in 1888-1889 and additional wings were constructed in 1911-1912.
Judge Charles E. Forbes, who wished to build a library for Northampton, left a bequest which funded the construction of the Forbes Library. Opened in 1894, the Richardsonian Romanesque building was designed by architect William Brocklesby of Hartford. The first Librarian (1894-1903) of Forbes was Charles Ammi Cutter, who had created the Cutter Expansive Classification System when he was Librarian at the Boston Athenaeum. The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum. Read More
In 2007, the old Broomfield School in Harvard reopened as the new home of the town’s public library. Harvard’s previous library building is located at 7 Fairbank Street. Built in 1886 and expanded in 1902, the Harvard Public Library was designed by William Channing Whitney (1851-1945), the nephew of Edward Lawrence, who had donated $5,000 for books provided the town constructed a building to house them. A further gift of $5,000 from Hannah W.C. Sawyer provided for purchasing the lot and building the library on the site of an inn that had burned down in 1880. Read More
The Bromfield School in the town of Harvard was founded by Margaret Bromfield Blanchard (died 1876), who left a bequest in her will to establish a private secondary school. The Romanesque Revival school building, designed by Peabody & Stearns, was built in 1877-1878 at 24 Massachusetts Avenue on the land where the colonial house of Mrs. Blanchard’s great-grandfather, Colonel Henry Bromfield, had once stood. Built as the residence of Rev. John Seccomb, the house became the summer residence of Col. Bromfield in 1767. The house burned down in 1855 and Mrs. Blanchard acquired the land for her future school. The Bromfield School eventually became a public school in 1940. It moved out of the old building in 2003 to a new building (12 Massachusetts Avenue). The Old Bromfield School was then extensively restored and reopened in 2007 with an 11,500-square-foot addition as the new home of the Harvard Public Library (4 Pond Road).
The Boylston Social Library was founded in the town of Boylston in 1792 as a private organization. In 1880 its librarian, George L. Wright, persuaded the members to donate the collection to the town, to start a public library. Wright was also the town’s historian. Located for a time in the Town Hall, the library constructed its own building, at 695 Main Street, in 1904. It was built of field stone on the site where the second meeting house of Boylston’s Congregational Church stood between 1793 to 1835, followed by the second Centre School House, built in 1841. Funding for the new library was provided by Miss Salome E. White of Brooklyn, NY and it was named in memory of her mother, Mrs. Harriet Sawyer White. The Craftsman-style library was designed by Fuller & Delano of Worcester.
In 1897, President Willian H. McKinley laid the cornerstone of of the Adams Free Library during his second visit to the town. The library, located at 92 Park Street in Adams, was built largely with funds provided by the Plunkett family, founders of the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company. It was built as both library and memorial to the veterans of the Civil War. The names Washington, Lincoln and Grant are listed on the building’s cornice. The building is constructed of buff-colored brick, trimmed by marble quarried at the former Adams Marble Company. The second floor was used as a meeting hall by Civil War veterans. An addition to the library was built in 1910.
The Salem Athenaeum is a private library established in 1810 with the merger of two earlier organizations: the Social Library, founded in 1760, and the Salem Philosophical Library, founded in 1781. The Athenaeum’s first permanent building was Plummer Hall, built in 1856-1857. The building was sold in 1905 to the Essex Institute, now the Peabody Essex Museum. The Athenaeum moved to its current building at 337 Essex Street, built in 1906-1907. The Colonial Revival Building was designed by architect William G. Rantoul. It closely resembles Homewood, a residence built in 1801 and now on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.