Library Postcards

 Civic Pride in Southern New England: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island

Boston received its own page in 2011.

The libraries of New England have their own appeal. Many, by reason of their architecture, are also found on other pages.

In March, 2007, I discovered the New England Carnegies page. For the libraries I have tagged as Carnegie libraries, Corinne H. Smith's web page is the reference.



Amesbury, MA Library

Amesbury was the home of a really eclectic bunch of people, including the poets John Greenleaf Whittier and Robert Frost, as well as Mary Baker Eddy.

Still in use.

Published by the Leighton and Valentine Co. of New York, with quality similar to the German imports.

 Amherst (Jones Library)

Jones Library, Amherst, MA

The 'anti-Carnegie' library building, built in the 1920s in a residential design. Enlarged in 1993.

Curt Teich 'Photo-Finish' card published in 1941.


Ashland, MA Carnegie library

Built after a 1903 Carnegie grant. Remodeled in 2005. Service hours cut back to a tragic minimum in 2006. The library's web page is part of the city's website.

Visit the New England Carnegies site for another postcard, and a bare bones chronology.

 Boylston (Sawyer Memorial Library)

Sawyer Memorial Library, Boylston, MA

Tudor/Stone masonery

River rock, English architecture, and a slight touch of Romanesque combine to yield a pleasing structure.
Although this is an early card, electric street lights are evident in the photo. Logical, since the Municipal Light Building was its neighbor.

New building Renovation imminent.


Brookline, MA public library Souvenir American Library Association Conference 
Washington D.C., May, 1914

This card was an ALA souvenir from May, 1914, touting the Snead Standard Stack. Its manufacturer was Snead and Company Iron Works of Jersey City, NJ, according to the 'Descriptive Catalog of the American Library Association Exhibit of Labor-Saving Devices.' NYPL gives a nifty picture of a Snead stack.

The library has a very multi-culturally friendly site and one of the most detailed histories I've ever seen.
Salient points include that the pictured 1910 building is the second library; its first renovation was in 1970; and the current renovation occurred in 2003.

 Conway (Field Memorial Library)

Interior view, Field Memorial Library Field Memorial Library, Conway, MA

(L) Interior view. Plaque above desk reads:

This building was built by Marshall Field in memory of his father and mother. John Field and Florida (blurred) Field Anno Domini 1900.

Posh. Its dedication in 1901 was even covered by the New York Times.

(R) Small Federal-style building with prominent ribs or seams on its dome.
Both cards were published by Florence R. Howland.

Field Memorial Library, Conway, MA

German treatment of the Field Memorial Library. Base picture was either taken during a blight or during the winter. Will the wonders of handcoloring never cease?

The library is now part of the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System.


Dedham, MA Public Library

Interesting building in a city with an interesting cultural history. Its checkered effect comes from Dedham pink granite and red sandstone trim.

The Library's roots date back to 1794, and a social library organized by a church. The next iteration's date was 1854. This form was chartered by the Massachusetts legislature in 1871, but the Romanesque/Southern French building comes from the 1886 Hannah Shuttleworth bequest, according to the Library's web site.

The children's room of 1916 was replaced by the children's wing of 1952.


Easthampton, MA library

Hooray! The Emily Williston Memorial Library is no longer painted like a circus wagon.

 Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard Island

Edgartown, MA Carnegie library

1902 Carnegie grant.

Mr. Carnegie didn't ask for his name to be emblazoned over the entrance to the library, or inscribed on a plaque inside. But one of his favorite symbols was the rising sun, which expressed his belief that the public library embodied the dawn of knowledge.

Stolen verbatim from the Library's history page.
Still (2011) in use after three expansions. 6,842 square feet of space is not very much in this century.

YorKolor card dates from between 1942 and 1962.

 Everett (Parlin Memorial Library)

Everett, MA library

Card dated Oct. 16, 1908.

 Fairhaven (Millicent Library)

Millicent Library, Fairhaven, MA

Hugh C. Leighton card.

Built in 1891-2 to memorialize the daughter of oil tycoon H.H. Rogers. The Library's history page calls the Norcross Brothers' building, planned by Charles Brigham, Italian Renaissance style. It was expanded in 1968.

 Fall River

Fall River, MA Library Fall River, MA Library

'The People's University,' according to the 1966 Yankee Colour Card to the right, as well as the carving beneath the roof line.
Possibly built of pink granite. Well, pink would be hep with those '50s cars on the street.


Falmouth, MA Library, WW memorial Falmouth, MA Library

Built in 1901.

The library's history page discusses a dome, which is not visible on these cards. Wings were added in 1966-8, another addition was built in 1978, and a major renovation was completed in 2008.

(L) This Tichnor card, mailed in 1943, also features a World War memorial, with some benches.
(R) The picture came from Gray of Falmouth, and the card was distributed by the New Bedford News Co. Its linen finish and feel are characteristic of cards from MWM, or possibly, Colourpicture.

 Fitchburg (Wallace Library & Art Building)

Wallace Library, Art Bldg., Fitchburg, Mass. Wallace Library, Art Bldg., Fitchburg, Mass.

Dueling libraries. Note how they stare each other down, in a mutant sort of way.
(L) Rotograph card, dolled up with glitter. Ghost flag on the building next door!
(R) Magically made of red brick.

1885 building, replaced in 1967. To celebrate the second generation of Wallace philanthopy, Archibald McLeish authored 'Remarks at the Dedication of the Wallace Library, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, June 3rd, 1967.'

 Franklin (Ray Memorial Library)

Ray Memorial Library, Franklin, MA

This is another one of those libraries that claim to be 'America's first public library.' 1790 is pretty doggone early, though.

Imposing Greek Revival building, built in 1904 and maintained from the Ray Memorial Fund by the Franklin Library Association until 1981. After the Town of Franklin took over, the building was restored between 1987 and 1989, and a children's wing added.

 Great Barrington (Mason Library)

Public Library, Great Barrington, MA Public Library, Great Barrington, MA

Sister library: Ramsdell.

Built in 1913 from Blanchard & Barnes' plan. Renovated in 2007 for accessibility issues.

(L) 1956 chrome Curt Teich card. Quite some station wagon parked in front!
(R) Earlier postcard incudes a totem pole.


Greenfield, MA library

According to the library's history page, the main house was built in 1797 and purchased by the town in 1907. It was renovated and the wings rebuilt. The library opened in 1909, and is still in use.

This is a Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art' card printed for Chas W. Hughes.
It purports to be 'Star Quality.'

 Hardwick (Paige Memorial Library)

Paige Memorial Library, Hardwick, MA

Another architectural mashup, dating from 1892. Still in use.
Card mailed in 1906.


Hinsdale, MA library

Built in 1866: still in use.
Its architect, Leopold Eidlitz, also helped design the New York Capitol in Albany.
According to the history page/architectural tour on the Library's web site, this is Tudor and Gothic style combined. However, looking at the Library online, I believe that there is a bit of Stick Style included.

Published by G.M. Solomon of Hinsdale: made in Germany.


Holyoke, MA public library Holyoke, MA public library

Despite the fact the Holyoke Public Library Corporation predated the city's incorporation date, Holyoke Public Library has had some major financial struggles in the last 30 years.

According to the Library's web site, the building was built between 1897 and 1902. Little known fact: J.P. Morgan chipped in ten grand.
I like its rather simple (yet Classical) design.

(L) This Curt Teich card was mailed in 1920. Curt's colorists decided it was pink.
(R) At a later date, his colorists decided it was yellow. Somehow I doubt they repainted the building.

I have a much newer Dexter Press chrome card (not shown) in which the building is grey, with the red roof. More boring, but more accurate.


Holliston, MA Carnegie Library

1903 Carnegie grant. The early postcard was mailed in 1904.

 Hyannis, Cape Cod (Hyannis Free Public Library and Engleston Library)

Hyannis, Cape Cod libraries

What a pair!
The front, Cape Cod style building is the Hyannis Free Public Library, according to the sign.
The rear building is the Engleton Library, according to its front.
I don't know which is the Reading Room that the small sign in the grass touts.

Today the library is painted brown, but the shutters remain green.


Lawrence, MA public library

Definitive 1892 Romanesque structure, replaced in 1973 and sold in 1974.


Lee, MA Carnegie library

Late 1903 Carnegie grant. According to the library's history page, it's the last remaining Carnegie building in the Berkshires. How many there were to begin with, I know not. This looks to be the 'standard plan,' but the dome is more like a New England cupola.
An interesting picture on the library's site is a shot of the marble quarry that furnished both the original marble and the stone for the 1977 addition.

The Curt Teich card dates from 1928, and was mailed in 1943.


Lowell Public Library

Memorial Hall, City Library, Early C.T. American Art card, mailed in 1920.


Lynn, MA Public Library Lynn, MA Public Library Lynn, MA Public Library
Early chrome card, publisher unknown. S. Langsdorf card in poor condition, printed in Germany. Souvenir Post Card, published in New York.

Lynn received Carnegie funds in 1915, but they are not mentioned on the library's web site. I believe the branches that were built from these monies have been sold.
Sic transit gloria mundi.


Malden, MA library

Founded in 1879: building still in use.

The card has a textured surface, not a linen finish.
It was produced in Germany for the Hugh C. Leighton Company of Portland, Maine.

 Marshfield Hills (Clift Rodger's Free Public Library)

Clift Rodger's Free Public Library

Rare clapboard library building which looks to be the definitive firetrap.
This library has the oddest story I've ever read. It was built in 1897, with a stage for benefit plays. Spiritualist meetings could be held free. however. Because of the stage, it became the parish hall for the North Community Church.
The current building is a result of a 1950 swap, and is kept in service by a consignment shop. The library carries mainly fiction today and prides itself on offering no reference service. Most functions are carried out by a volunteer force.


Mattapoisett Library

Someone considered the war memorial more exciting than the library, but this card nicely shows what city streets lined with elms looked like. Anyone born after 1960 or so missed this.
For those in the Midwest whose city replaced the elms with ash trees (hello there, Madison), you're going to get a feeling for what the devastation of Dutch Elm disease wrought when the ash borer hits your city.

Do you notice the gardener in the orange shirt?


Medford, MA library Medford, MA library

Medford, Oregon and Medford, Wisconsin got Carnegie grants, but not Medford, Massachusetts.

(L) White border card shows a rather regal building.
(R) Pioneer card in remarkable condition.

Both cards show a building in back that looks like a school building.

 Methuen (Nevins Memorial Library)

Nevins Memorial Library

Interesting mix of Italianate, Mediterranean, and Romanesque style.
Card has a divided back, and was published by the Metropolitan News Co. of Boston.
Or by W.K. Ephlin.
It appears to be still in use, without any external modification.


Middleboro, MA Public Library

Still in use.

Captioned as Public Library, Middleboro, Mass. Melvyl Dui would be proud.

 North Brookfield (Haston Free Public Library)

Haston Free Public Library

Perhaps the Haston Public Library is the definitive Romanesque structure instead.

 Norwood (Morrill Memorial Library)

Morrill Memorial Library

Norwood, aka South Dedham, had a lending library as early as 1790.
This building is not it.
The 1898 building was added on in 1928 and 1965, then renovated in 2001.

The library's well-designed website calls the facility Romanesque. Eh, I'm not so sure.

 Pittsfield (Berkshire Athanaeum)

Berkshire Athanaeum

What a beautiful building!
Built in 1872, it is also known as the Berkshire Athenaeum, and has also served as a museum.
It was renovated in 1897, making pre-renovation postcards scarce, and replaced in 1975.
The new library is next door, and in turn was renovated in 1997 and 2008.

Want to see a few more views? Check out the Library's history page.

 Quincy (Thomas Crane Public Library)

Designed by H.H. Richardson himself.

Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, MA Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, MA

Built in 1882; Coletti addition, 1938; renovated 2001.
You can see touches of English Tudor in the eyebrow windows, and precursors of Prairie Style in the windows that are snugged up to the roofline.

(R) Late Tichnor Bros. 'Lusterchrome' card mailed 1967. The Coletti addition is visible off the right side of the library.

 Randolph (Turner Free Library)

Turner Free Library

Built, 1874. Destroyed by arson, December 6, 1962.

In an incredible act of resillience, the Library reopened during the fire, with only six books remaining. At one point, the Library operated out of a station wagon. Talk about selfless devotion to service!

Despite this history, the Library was temporarily decertified in 2007, when it was no longer able to stay open for the mandated 63 hours/week.

 Shelburne Falls (Pratt Memorial Library)

Pratt Memorial Library

Apparently still in use.

Photo postcard showing a library in a style more common west of the Mississippi. In the middle right of the card is a combination horse waterer and drinking fountain.


Somerville, MA Library

An imposing structure built in 1884.

 South Hadley Falls

S. Hadley Falls, MA library

From the Dexter Press card reverse:

The South Hadley Falls Public Library was opened in 1907 on Bardwell St., South Hadley Falls, Mass. The Library has filled a vital need in the town and as it continues to serve the growing community, its value and convenience are widely appreciated. The three blue spruce trees standing in front of the Library were planted by the Girl Scouts.

South Hadley itself is said by Bobinski to have received a Carnegie grant in December, 1905.


Springfield, Mass. Public Library Springfield, Mass. Public Library Springfield, Mass. Public Library and Smith Art Museum

(L) Gothic beyond all comprehension. The woman on the sidewalk is, appropriately, dressed in black.
(C) Horsecart in foreground.
(R) Includes the Smith Art Museum.

This 1871 building was moved, and replaced by a Carnegie building in 1912, according to the library's website.

Main Library

Springfield, Mass. Carnegie Library Springfield, Mass. Carnegie Library

I don't know why it took me so long to find cards of the main Carnegie building.
Suddenly I see them at just about every flea market and postcard show I attend.
(L) End view also features a church steeple. The early linen card was mailed in 1937, but the cars suggest an earlier date.
(R) 1943 Curt Teich card shows a green roof and some rather deformed trees.

Forest Park Library

Forest Park, Springfield Carnegie Library Forest Park, Springfield Carnegie Library

Another Springfield Carnegie building, next to Sumner Park. Bobinski dates the grants as early as 1905.
The righthand card is an 'Americhrome' product. If you look closely, you will see the iron gate obstructing the doorway.

 Turners Falls

Turners Falls, MA Carnegie library

1903 Carnegie grant.
German postcard, mailed in 1908.


Tyringham, MA library Tyringham, MA library

(L) An attractive linen-finish card of a single storey stone library.
(R) E.L. Tinker monochrome card, mailed 1908.

No web presence.


Public Library, Westfield, Mass.

Believed to be the Westfield Athenaeum.

Proceeding on the assumption that this was the Athenaeum, this was the 1899 version; the second library building. Among the sources of its funding were monies from the president of the American Whip Company, and proceeds from the dog tax.

In 1927, this building became the 'Fowler-Gillett Homestead for the Boys and Girls Library.' It was expanded in 1966.

German postcard with an entire back.

Whitinsville (Whitinsville Social Library)

Whitinsville (MA) Social Library

Chrome postcard featuring dressed stone Georgian Revival building.

 Winchendon (Beal's Memorial Library)

Beal's Memorial Library of Winchenden, MA

This is an American Art postcard, not to be confused with Curt Teich's 'C.T. American Art' line.


Worchester, MA library Worchester, MA library

Two publishers. One photo. The lefthand card is from A.P. Lundberg, the righthand, by A.C. Bosselman. Both were printed in Germany.

The building is either demolished or remodeled into oblivion. Actually, I'm not 100 percent certain which building was the library. Either is an appropriate size.

Rhode Island

Poor little Rhode Island. No Carnegie libraries at all, while Oklahoma and Arizona--and even Hawaii!--got their funding while still U.S. Territories.

 Newport (Redwood Library)

Newport, RI Library

Claimed by Mercury Publishing of Newport to be the oldest public library in America.

 Pawtucket (Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library)

Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library of Pawtucket Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library of Pawtucket Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library of Pawtucket
Divided back card with number P-64466 in the lower left corner. Private mailing card, sent in 1903. Mid-century Plastichrome card.

Built in 1899-1902: architects were Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson. Joined in 1982 with the former post office, known as the Gerald S. Burns Building, to yield the Pawtucket Public Library.


Providence Public Library Providence Public Library

According to its website, Providence Public Library is a non-profit corporation founded in 1875.
I would surmise that this building dates from then, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

It's not obvious from the website whether this facility is still in use, either. I can't imagine it being outgrown, but things do happen.

(L) Detailed view of entry. Unevenly divided back card by A.C. Bosselman of New York, sent 1911.
(R) Overall view of library on a subtly colored linen- finish card.

 Wickford (North Kingston Free Library)

Wickford, RI library

Built 1898: 1962 addition. Replaced in 1975.



Danielson, CT library

Card distributed by the Boston Dry Goods Co. of Danielson. Mailed September 12, 1917.


Greenwich Carnegie Library Greenwich Carnegie Library

One of the earliest Carnegie Libraries, from a 1897 grant, according to the library's history page. It was replaced in 1960. A Saks Fifth Avenue store stands on its former land. Totally dwarfing the Carnegie contribution is the $25,000,000 bequest by Clementine Lockwood Peterson, which was the largest private gift ever to have been donated to a public library. It went to an amazing 1992 wing on the current building.
Can you top this?

Nice early U.S. card printed by TB of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and published by J. Ruben out of Newburgh, N.Y.


Groton Public Library

What a lovely card. (1905, Rotograph Co.) The corner effects are an artifact from mounts.


Hartford Public Library Hartford Public Library

From the Capitol Novelty card (L):

The completion of the New Hartford Public Library is the culmination of a long history which dates back to 1774 when Hartford's first library, called the Hartford Library Company, was formed. In its 182 years of existence the Library has had a variety of locations. Its longest stay was in the Wadsworth Atheneum where it was located from 1842 until the fall of 1956 when the new public library was completed.

Apparently the card also dates from 1956.

 Middletown (Russell Library)

Established in 1875 when Frances Russell bought a 1834 church to remodel into the library. A 1930 renovation must have helped the area economy. Amusingly, its second renovation, in 1972, incorporated an 1965 bank.
The third renovation came in 1983, and various upgrades have proceeded since.

Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art' card dates from 1916.


Now The Mystic & Noank Library. Still in the same 1891 building, with a 1992 addition.
Built from William Bigelow plans by Mertz's Sons, supervised by William Higginson. There are some really strange details to be found. Of course, since it's New England, someone thought there had to be a cupola. The front is rather Romanesque, but the window over the entry doesn't match the others. And the little tile roof over the entrance is positively Japanese.
And I don't know what to say about that chimney.

Americhrome postcard, printed in Germany for The Rhode Island News Company.

 New Haven

New Haven Carnegie Library New Haven Carnegie Library

Carnegie grant, 1913.

(L) Linen card with springtime view.
(R) Another card that was sent to noted Grand Rapids, Michigan, librarian Helen Barstow. The sender chose an early chrome card by Joseph Gans shortly after the building was built.

The library is still in use. Of the 4 branches, the Fair Haven looks as if it might also be a Carnegie building.

 New London

New London, CT library New London, CT library

(L) W.S. Calvert published this card, which appears to date from the mid-1910s.
(R) This gorgeous card was another Rotograph product.
The perspective is nearly identical.

 Waterbury (Silas Bronson Library)

Silas Bronson Library

1894 Italian Renaissance building demolished in 1968.

The Library currently serving an urban, poorer base. Its website is one of the truly bilingual ones I've found.

© 2003-2013 Judy Aulik

Uploaded 05 December 2006.
Last updated 23 June 2013.
Northern New England: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont