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.

Old Post Office Block, Ludlow Mass

The Old Post Office Block at the corner of East and Sewall Streets in Ludlow in 1903. Photo courtesy of the Hubbard Memorial Library.

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The building in 2015:


These views were taken from about the same spot as the ones in this post, just turned a little further to the right.  The building here is the old Post Office Block, which was built in 1901, and not surprisingly housed the Ludlow Post Office for nearly 60 years.  Although Ludlow’s original town center is further away, this area along the Chicopee River grew in population in the late 1800s thanks to the factories that developed here in Ludlow and across the river in Indian Orchard.  Many of the postal customers of the early 1900s would have been workers across the street at the Ludlow Manufacturing Associates factory; some of the buildings from this facility still exist today, including the iconic clock tower directly behind where this photo was taken.

This building wasn’t just a post office though; it also had other commercial tenants, and it was one of the first large commercial buildings in the town.  The size of the building reflected the dramatic spike in population; between 1890 and 1900, Ludlow’s population nearly doubled, and would more than double again by 1920.  The post office hasn’t used the building in over 50 years, but it remains in a remarkable state of preservation 112 years later.

East Street, Ludlow Mass

Looking west on East Street from the corner of State Street in Ludlow in 1904. Photo courtesy of the Hubbard Memorial Library.

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East Street in 2015:


This part of East Street in Ludlow hasn’t changed much in the past 111 years, aside from the obvious changes in transportation.  The road has gone from a dirt road to a paved, four lane route through town, and a row of parallel-parked cars contrasts with the horse-drawn carriage that is hitched up along the curb in the 1904 view.  The old Post Office Block on the right is still there, as is Library Park beyond it.  However, just out of view, the left-hand side of the street has changed a lot.  The area between the road and the Chicopee River is now a modern commercial development, but in 1904 it was part of the massive Ludlow Manufacturing facility, some of which survives to this day, directly behind where these photos were taken.