Fox Point Branch Library

90 Ives Street
Providence, RI 02906

401-331-0390

History:

The Fox Point Library began, like the branches in Mount Pleasant and the North End, as an outgrowth of a social service agency, in this case the Providence Society for Organizing Charities, an umbrella organization formed to improve social conditions in a city struggling with a large immigrant population. In 1912 the Society moved its headquarters to 403 S. Main Street, which had ample space on the second floor for two volunteers to start a small lending library aimed at the children of the neighborhood, specifically from the Jewish and Cape Verdean communities. Books were provided by PPL, but staffing and maintenance were provided by the Society.

Five years later, as the financial health of the central library improved, the South Main Street Library became an official sub-branch of PPL with trained staff provided by the library. In 1925 PPL found a new home for the library and its stock of 1,500 books on Brook Street at the corner with Transit, once again in rented space. At the time of the move, the library was made a full branch and renamed the Brook Street Branch, where it served both neighborhood children and a growing number of adults.

Although PPL embarked over the next several years on a building program that resulted, by 1932, in four purpose-built brick libraries all in other parts of the city, the Brook Street Branch, was moved to a substantial older building, the former Hope Methodist Church, on Hope Street purchased by PPL, which adapted it for its needs by removing the steeple and installing extensive stack storage. The new Tockwotton Branch was opened in November 1928 and served a wide section of Fox Point and College Hill with considerable success until increasing financial pressure led PPL, despite strong community protest, to decide in 1963 to sell the building on Hope Street to the Rhode Island Historical Society for $82,000.

After a year of bookmobile service, community leaders intervened and made available to PPL, for a nominal rent of $1.00 a year, the former bath house at 511 Wickenden Street close to the nearby Fox Point Elementary School. The city and the library made the necessary improvements and the branch library, renamed the Fox Point Branch, opened in October 1964. Continued financial pressure on PPL led to another closing of the Fox Point Branch (as well as the Wanskuck Branch) in 1970 followed by its reopening after the city and the state agreed to pay two-thirds of its operating costs. In February 1975, the branch left the Bath House and moved across the street to the new Fox Point Community Center built to serve the Boys Club, formerly located on South Main St., and a health center. There 38 years later, at 90 Ives St., the Fox Point Library remains, a tenant of the Boys and Girls Club, in challenging space where staff work hard to create a warm and welcoming library.

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