Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

38. Needham Free Public Library

Needham’s first libraries, starting in 1796, were subscription libraries, for which users paid an annual fee.  Free (to all) libraries grew out of the public health and education movements of the 19th century. Needham’s first free library (1888) was small and shared rooms with the High School, first above the general store, and then in the attic of the Kimball Grammar School. When efforts to build a dedicated Public Library building stalled over expenditure in 1904, Needham manufacturer/philanthropist William Carter, and Andrew Carnegie (a self-educated man, and strong supporter of the free public library movement,) built the town a library on the corner of Highland Avenue and Mellen Street (Site #49).

Residents of Needham Center, however, were not entirely pleased that the town’s first Library was located in the Heights, so within 10 years the money was found to build a new one. The current Library was built in 1915, at the corner of Rosemary Street – the traditional “dividing line” between the Center and the Heights.

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