Kent Memorial Library, Suffield Connecticut

The original Kent Memorial Library building in Suffield, probably taken around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The building in 2015:

The Kent Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1899, on land previously occupied by the Old South building on the Connecticut Literary Institute campus.  It was the town’s first public library, and was built using funds provided by Suffield native Sidney A. Kent in memory of his parents.  He paid for the construction and for nearly 7,000 books, along with an endowment for the continued operation of the library.  The town used this building until 1972, when a new, larger library was opened across the street.  The new building took the name with it, and the old one was purchased by Suffield Academy, which is the current name for the old Connecticut Literary Institute.  The academy built an addition in the back, and today it serves as the Legare Library.

Gaylord Library, South Hadley Mass

The Gaylord Library on College Street in South Hadley, around 1904-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The library in 2015:

The epitaph on William Shakespeare’s grave warns that, “cursed be he that moves my bones,” so I suppose it is a good thing that he was never buried here in South Hadley, where the old town cemetery was moved back in 1902 to build a library. Perhaps Shakespeare would’ve approved in the name of literature, but either way the first photograph shows the site of the former cemetery, soon after it was redeveloped as the Gaylord Memorial Library.

This site was originally home to the First Congregational Church of South Hadley as well as the adjoining cemetery, but in 1894 the church burned, along with a small library that was housed inside the church.  Local philanthropist William H. Gaylord offered to donate money to build a library if the graves were moved, and the plan was approved.  The library opened in 1904, and later in the year both William Gaylord and his wife Betsey died, on the same day.  They left an endowment to maintain the library, which operated independently until 1968, when it became a branch of the South Hadley Public Library.  Because of costs, however, it reverted to an independent library in 1995, and is open to the public on a limited schedule, Thursdays through Saturdays.

American Whip Company, Westfield Mass

The American Whip Company building and the old Westfield Library building on Main Street, probably in the early 1890s. Image courtesy of the Westfield Athenaeum.

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The location in 2015:

The American Whip Company was one of many whip manufacturers located in the “Whip City” of Westfield, Massachusetts. The building in the distance of the first photo was built around 1884, and less than a decade later the company merged with 13 other Westfield companies to form the United States Whip Company.  The added on to the facility with the “U” shaped building seen in this post; it is still on the site today, although it has been extensively modified.

The original 1884 building is still there, although it’s not visible from this angle; it is immediately behind, and slightly to the left of Subway and Domino’s today.  The old library building, however, is long gone – it was presumably demolished around 1892 when the United States Whip Company building was constructed on its spot.  Today, the Westfield Athenaeum is located on the other side of the Green, next to Court Street.

Baxter Memorial Library, Rutland Vermont

The H. H. Baxter Memorial Library at the corner of Grove and Library Streets in Rutland, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company collection.

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The building in 2015:

The Baxter Memorial Library was built in 1889 in honor of Horace Henry Baxter, a businessman who was involved in railroads as well as the Rutland marble business.  He served from 1859 to 1861 as the Adjutant General of the Vermont Militia, and later in the decade he moved to New York City, where he served as the president of the New York Central Railroad from 1867 to 1869, and was on the railroad’s board of directors from 1869 until his death in 1884.  Five years later, the library opened with funds donated by his family.  Today, the building is still there, and the only major difference is the retaining wall, which was removed in the 1950s, and the stones were used to make an addition on the other side of the building.  Otherwise, the only significant change is its use – today, it is the Rutland Jewish Center, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.