The beginning of library facilities in Dedham goes back to 1794, when
the Social Library of the First Parish was organized. The constitution
and the by-laws for governing the library were adopted on September 8th,
1794, when the first meeting of the proprietors was held. The town
minister kept the books in his house and issued them for circulation on
Mondays only. The library grew from 87 volumes in 1809 to 230 volumes in
1838 and 500 volumes in 1860, and extended its services to all residents
of the town. As of 1856, the books were placed in the vestry of the
First Parish Church and were circulated on Sundays, with Jonathan D.
Cobb as librarian.|
On November 24, 1854, Dedham residents got together and founded the
Dedham Library Association, with Dr. Samuel Adams as its first
librarian. The newly founded library, which opended its doors on
February 1st, 1855 functioned for two years in the building occupied by
Dr. Samuel Adams at 630 High Street. In 1872, the Dedham Library
Association transferred its holdings to the newly organized Dedham
Public Library and endowed it with 2,977 carefully selected volumes.
These books formed the nucleus of the present Dedham Public Library,
which was chartered by an act of the Legislature on March 24th, 1871,
and accepted by the town April 27th.
The Dedham Public Library was opened to the Public on February 4th, 1872
in a rented room over Thomas J. Baker's store, corner of Court and
Norfolk Streets. Miss Frances M. Mann, long connected with the
Library Association, was elected librarian. The reading room was a great
success from the start, and, while it was frequented by all Dedham
residents, its most numerous patrons were the boys and girls of the town.
Although alterations and improvements had been made to the library over
the years, the need of a library building was early apparent to the
trustees and to the public as well. The bequest of Hannah
Shuttleworth made possible in 1886 the erection of a library
building. A committee was appointed in March, 1886, to secure a suitable
site, and the present library lot at the cornere of Church and Norfolk
streets was purchased at a cost of $2,000.00 out of the $10,000.00
bequest. Plans for a library building by Boston well-known architects
Van Brunt and Howe were accepted by the corporation on September 22nd,
1886. The new library opened its doors on November 8th, 1888. The
exterior of the building is constructed of Dedham pink granite, with
trimming of red sand stone. The style is romanesque of Southern France,
treated in a rural fashion, and the interior follows the same style.
In 1916, the Trustees of the Public Library established in the main
library a special room for the use of children. The Children's Room was
opened May 1st, 1918 with Miss Edith H. Smith as the children's
librarian. From the beginning, it has been very popular and has been
used not only by children, but also by teachers who could obtain books
for use in the classroom.
There were no additions to the building until 1952, when the new
Children's wing was built and the Adult Department was renovated.
main entrance was built on Church Street. To build the main branch of the Dedham Public Library were used the stones of the Dedham Train Station that was demolished in 1951.
At this point in time, the
book collection was 58,192 volumes. A special feature of the new wing
was an auditorium on the lower floor. Not long ago, this auditorium was
converted to a reading room for history and travel books, in order to
provide more shelving for the growing book collection.
Historical review taken from an article in Internet