History of the Dedham Public Library

History of DPL

The Dedham Public Library began in 1794 when the First Parish Church organized the Social Library. The town minister kept the books in his house, issuing them for circulation only on Mondays.

In 1807, the Social Library had 87 volumes; in 1838, 230 volumes; in 1860, 500 volumes. In 1856, the books were moved to the vestry of the First Parish Church and were circulated on Sundays, with Jonathan D. Cobb as the first librarian. In 1860, the Social Library became open to all residents.

On November 24, 1854, Dedham residents founded the Dedham Library Association. The new library, which opened February 1, 1855, was housed at 630 High Street, with Dr. Samuel Adams as the new librarian.

An act of legislature chartered the present Dedham Public Library on March 24, 1871. The Library Association endowed 2,977 books to the new building, a rented room over Thomas J. Baker’s store on the corner of Court and Norfolk Streets. The first Dedham Public Library opened on February 20, 1872. Francis M. Mann, a long-time member of the Library Association, was appointed as the librarian.

In 1882, John Bullard left a bequest of $10,000 to the Library. In 1886, Hannah Shuttleworth left a $10,000 bequest to the library which allowed the purchase of land for $2,000 – the current site on the corner of Church and Norfolk Streets.

Boston architects Van Brunt and Howe designed the Main Library with a Romanesque/Southern France style; the exterior is Dedham pink granite and red sandstone trim.

The Trustees approved the addition of a children’s room in 1916, and Edith H. Smith became the first children’s librarian. In 1952, an entire children’s wing was added, along with a renovation of the adult department and a new main entrance on Church Street. This is the current state of the Main Library.

The Endicott Branch was added in 1973.

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