Somerville Public Library Main Branch

Like the West branch building, the main branch library in Somerville, MA was funded by Andrew Carnegie. The building was completed in 1917 after outgrowing the space first in city hall and then in a building adjacent.

 

 

The interior is bright and comfortable with orange bookshelves which are the result of an extensive renovation in 1975.

 

 

The frieze shows a procession for the festival of the Panathanaea. It is a reproduction of a section of the Parthenon's outer wall.

 

 

Other decorations include a bas relief carving which was a WPA Art Project completed in 1938

 

 

... and a donated statue of the Greek boxer Damoxenus, here garbed for Halloween.

 

 

Like all libraries, there are interesting tidbits of information. In 1901 the library started a delivery service to people's homes. Boys were paid five cents per book for each round trip delivery. Then there was the arrest of John McKay in 1904 for the theft of about 200 books valued at $1,600.
 

The most entertaining description was in the library's own pamphlet describing the first library director, Sam Walter Foss: "He was an exemplary director and a mediocre poet."

 

Additional photos can be seen by clicking over to the gallery for this library.

Sources:

Pamphlet: "Everything You Wanted to Know About the Somerville Public Library But Were Afraid to Ask"

Newspaper clippings, date and source unknown.

Library Trustees Annual Report, 1938

The Library Journal, June 1904 issue.

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