John Curtis Free Library

534 Hanover Street
Hanover, MA 02339



In September of 1887 the Selectmen of Hanover received a letter from Mr. John Curtis of Boston offering a donation of 1800 books to begin a library. Mr. Curtis had been born and brought up in Hanover in a house on Main Street, commonly known as Curtis Street. The Selectmen gratefully accepted his offer at a Town meeting on October 31, 1887.

A room in the Town hall was set aside and a library committee was formed consisting of Miss Tryphena Whiting, Dr. Clarence L. Howes, Mr. John Simmons, the Reverend Melvin S. Nash, and the Reverend Thomas Goodwin. The library was opened to the public on January 4, 1888 on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and called “The Hanover Free Library”. The first librarian was Miss Ruth Sylvester, who earned $102. for the entire year. During the first year the committee reported a circulation of 9226 volumes.

In 1893 the Town Hall was renovated and the library was given two rooms. Mr. Curtis continued donating books to the library over the years and in 1898 he gave $4000. to set up a trust fund for future needs. The library committee then became the trustees of the library and the library was renamed to “John Curtis Free Library”.

Mr. Curtis died in 1900 and left $15,000 for the erection of a new library building. These funds would only be available after the death of his daughter, Miss Alice Marian Curtis. However, Miss Curtis was a generous woman and in 1906 gave the money to the library.

The land for the new building was purchased next to the Town Hall from Mr. Henry Martin Stetson for $300 and Mr. Edmund Q. Sylvester was hired as architect. The building was planned to accommodate 12,000 books and Mr. Sylvester set his fee at 5% of the cost of the building. Construction began in the spring of 1907 by the company of Hapgood and Frost of Wellesley with an estimated cost of $14,275. The library was completed in December of that year and the dedication ceremony took place on December 12, 1907. The Hon, Jedediah Dwelley, who was considered by many to be the leading citizen of Hanover, gave the principle address and thanked Miss Curtis for her benevolent gift.

In 1912 Mr. Edward Tindale was commissioned to paint a portrait of Miss Curtis who had recently died and left an additional $24,000 to the library. The portrait of Miss Curtis would hang in the adult reading room beside Jedediah Dwelley, also painted by Mr. Tindale, and John Curtis, painted by Miss Curtis herself.

The library continued to expand its collection and in the 1960s the rapidly growing Town population resulted in an addition being approved. The firm ofKilham, Hopkins, Greeley and Brodie of Boston was engaged as architects. The official opening of the addition was on November 10, 1968.

Twenty years later in 1988, it was clear that the library needed to expand once again. A building committee was formed, designs drawn, and a State Construction grant was obtained. However, the Town failed to approve the construction funds and the project remained in limbo until 1995 when new state money became available. The Town appropriated funding in 1996 and a state grant was received in 1999. R. Stewart Roberts Associates was hired as the architect and G&R Contracting became the builder. In the fall of 2000, the library moved to the Salmond School and construction on the Hanover Center site began. Two years later on October 15, 2002, the library reopened.

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