Morgan Hall, Amherst Mass

Morgan Hall at Amherst College in Amherst, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Morgan Hall in 2015:


Morgan Hall was built in 1853, and was the first library building at Amherst College.  Its Italianate architecture was popular in the United States in the mid 1800s, and it was constructed of gneiss that was quarried from nearby Pelham.  The building served as the library from its completion until 1917, when the college’s holdings outgrew both the original building and an 1880s addition that had expanded the capacity to over 30,000 books.  From 1874 to 1877, Melvil Dewey served as the Acting Librarian here, where he established the Dewey Decimal Classification.  This library became the first to use the classification system, which today is used in about 200,000 libraries around the world.  During its time as a library, this building would have also been used by future president Calvin Coolidge, who graduated from Amherst College in 1895.

Since the first photo was taken, the building has seen several renovations.  When the library moved in 1917, the building was converted into classroom and office space, and today the building houses several academic departments.  It is also home to the Bassett Planetarium, which was installed in the second floor in 1960.  Today, Amherst College’s main library is across the street and is named for Robert Frost, who taught English at the college from 1916-1920, 1923-1924, and 1927-1938.  Melvil Dewey would be disappointed to learn, however, that like most other academic libraries the Robert Frost Library now uses the Library of Congress Classification instead of the Dewey Decimal Classification that was pioneered here.

Hubbard Memorial Library, Ludlow Mass

Hubbard Memorial Library in Ludlow, seen in 1903. Photo courtesy of the Hubbard Memorial Library.

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The library in 2015:


Ludlow’s current public library building was built in 1889 as a gift to the town from the estate of the late industrialist Charles Townsend Hubbard, the founder of the Ludlow Manufacturing Company.  Hubbard may not have been as prolific a library builder as fellow 19th century industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (who funded 2,509 libraries to Hubbard’s 1), but he played a significant role in expanding the selection of books available to Ludlow’s citizens, many of whom worked in his factory.  The first public library in Ludlow opened in 1881 with around 400 books, but when the building opened in 1889 the town accepted a donation of 1,500 books from the Ludlow Manufacturing Company.  By 1912, the library’s holdings were around three to four thousand.

As time went on, the interior was altered to provide adequate room for the growing collections, although today the exterior looks essentially unchanged from the 1903 scene.  This is probably in part due to one of the stipulations in the original agreement to accept the building from the Hubbard estate, that “the building is to be forever maintained in proper repair at the expense of the town as a public library and reading room.”  I don’t know exactly how enforceable a “forever” clause is in this case, or what would happen if the town did decide to move the library, but stipulations aside, it is a historically and architecturally significant building that has become a Ludlow landmark, so I doubt it would be going anywhere anytime soon.

Dickinson Memorial Library, Northfield Mass

Northfield’s Dickinson Memorial Library, around 1900-1906.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The library in 2014:


Northfield’s public library is the Dickinson Memorial Library, named after 19th century shoe manufacturer Elijah Dickinson, who had donated $20,000 to construct the granite building.  It was dedicated in 1898, with noted evangelist and Northfield resident D.L. Moody among the speakers at the event.  Today, the building looks much the same as it did in the first picture, which was taken only a few years after its dedication.

Springfield Public Library, Springfield Mass (3)

The newly-completed Springfield Public Library, around 1912. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The building in 2014:


Springfield’s current main branch of the public library system was opened on January 10, 1912, which is probably around the time that the first photo was taken. The Library of Congress data indicates that it was taken between 1900 and 1910, but obviously that is not the case. Regardless, not much has changed with this view, although the foreground is now a parking lot; in 1912, it was the front lawn of the Church of the Unity.

Springfield Public Library, Springfield Mass (2)

Springfield Public Library, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same view in 2014:


Another view of the old library, which was built in 1871 and moved around 1910 in preparation for the construction of the new library, which sits on the same spot today.

Springfield Public Library, Springfield Mass (1)

The Springfield Public Library, around 1900-1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same scene in 2014:


Springfield’s first public library opened in 1871, on State Street just up the hill from Chestnut Street.  However, it didn’t take long to outgrow the building, and in 1905 Andrew Carnegie donated money to Springfield to build a new main library and several branch libraries.  The library needed to stay open during connstruction, so the old building was moved back and the new building was built in its spot. It was dedicated on January 10, 1912, just 3 months before the Titanic sank and Fenway Park opened (these were two unrelated events; they simply occurred in the same month). I don’t know what became of the old library, but it obviously does not exist anymore.