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.
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.
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.
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.
Springfield’s City Library Association was formed in 1857. After occupying a room in City Hall, a red-brick Gothic style building was erected at the corner of State and Chestnut Streets in 1863. When this building was outgrown, plans were made to erect a larger structure. Andrew Carnegie donated funds to build the central library and three branches. In order to continue providing library service during construction of the new building, the old library was moved back 200 feet to make room for the new one. Charles R. Trask, one of the old library’s original builders, was hired to move it (it was later torn down). Christ Church also moved its Rectory to the other side of the church. The new library, designed by Edward Lippincott Tilton in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, was built of reinforced concrete with a pink granite base, white Vermont marble, and has a frieze of white terra cotta. The building was completed in 1911 and opened in January, 1912. Read More
At a town meeting in Southborough in 1852, Col. Francis B. Fay offered $500 for a town library. Matching funds were raised and the Fay Library, located in the town hall, was officially started. It was one of the nation’s first free municipal libraries. Col. Fay, who served as a U.S. Representative, among other public offices, would later donate additional funds to the Library. A separate building for the Library was constructed in 1909-1911 on land donated by the Burnett family. The Southborough Library building was expanded in 1989.