Category Archives: Libraries

Bromfield School (1878)

Old Bromfield School

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).

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Sawyer Memorial Library (1904)

Sawyer Memorial Library, Boylston

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.

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Adams Free Library (1897)

Adams Free Library

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.

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Salem Athenaeum (1907)

Salem Athenaeum (1907)

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.

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Old Berkshire Athenaeum (1876)

Berkshire Athenaeum

The old Berkshire Athenaeum building, at 44 Bank Row in Pittsfield, was built in 1874-1876. A gift of railway magnate Thomas Allen, it is a High Victorian Gothic building, designed by William Appleton Potter of New York, and displays that style’s distinctive ploychromatic masonry. An addition was made to the rear of the building in 1897. The addition was raised to two stories in 1926, the same year the building’s chimneys were removed. The building served as Pittsfield’s library until 1976, when a new building was constructed across the street on Wendell Avenue. The building was also home to the county museum until the Berkshire Museum was built in 1903. The Athenaeum had responsibility for the museum until it became a separate institution in 1932. The old Athenaeum building stood vacant for three years until it reopened in 1980 as an annex to the Berkshire County Courthouse. It currently houses the Berkshire Probate and Family Court.

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Tilton Library (1916)

The Village Library Association was founded in South Deerfield in 1871 and in 1893 it became the South Deerfield Village Library, supported by town funds. The library had several homes, moving from a room in a private building to a newly erected room in the Congregational Chapel in 1876, it moved again in 1906 to the ground floor of Tilton’s Grocery Store. Chauncey B. Tilton, a local grocer, had died in 1900. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts later ruled that money he had left for charitable purposes could be used for literary or educational purposes. This enabled the construction of Tilton Library, built in 1915-1916 as a permanent home for the South Deerfield Village Library. In the late twentieth century, Tilton Library merged with Old Deerfield’s Dickinson Library to become the town of Deerfield’s public library.

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Gaylord Memorial Library (1904)

Gaylord Memorial Library in South Hadley was built in 1904 on what had been the village cemetery. To make way for the library, the graves were moved to Evergreen Cemetery on Hadley Street; all except for the grave of John Preston, the original donor of the land. Preston had received the grant of land for his services as a soldier in the French and Indian War. The Library was donated by William H. Gaylord and was designed by Putnam and Cox of Boston. It was dedicated on May 18, 1904 and Gaylord and his wife, Betsey Stone Gaylord, both died on December 22, 1904. The Gaylord Library was operated independently, but from 1968 to 1995, it was run as a branch of the South Hadley Public Library. Facing closure by the town due to a lack of money, the Library has since operated independently again, although with more limited hours.

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