Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

LIBRARY CLOSED TO PUBLIC & STAFF THROUGH MAY 4, 2020 - Please check back for updates

 

The Town of Easton and Easton Select Board have declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, March 23, the Governor of Massachusetts issued an order for non-essential businesses to close their physical buildings to workers and the public, while encouraging those businesses to operate remotely. Given that proactive flattening of the contagion will serve Easton in the long run:

 

  • The Ames Free Library and Queset House will be closed to the public and to staff through May 4, 2020.
  • All public programming and private group meetings at the Library and Queset House are suspended until further notice.
  • "Holds pickup" window is now closed, based on the direct recommendation of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).
  • Please do not return any materials while the Library remains closed. All items are now due April 15, and there will be no late fines accruing during the period the Library remains closed.
  • As always, a range of online resources are available here on the website, 24/7, including our online reference services and brand-new, online Storytimes!  You may also register for a library card online. Library staff are continuing to work hard on increasing innovative online programs, so keep checking back for updates.

History


The Ames Free Library first opened its doors in 1883. Under the terms of the will of Oliver Ames II, $50,000, in trust, was left for the construction and support of a Library for the benefit of the inhabitants of Easton MA. Fifteen thousand dollars of this amount was designated for a permanent fund, the income of which shall be devoted to increasing the library and keeping the building, its appurtenances, and contents in repair. This fund was added to by his descendants through the years and constituted its sole support until 1972 when town support was given in order to qualify the library for state aid.
The main building was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1877 and opened in 1883. One of the outstanding men in the history of American architecture, Richardson was the teacher of Louis Sullivan, the father of the modern skyscraper, whose pupil, Frank Lloyd Wright, remains one of the foremost architects of this century. The Ames Free Library is one of four public libraries in Massachusetts designed by Richardson. The others are located in Malden, Quincy, and Woburn.
The library is built of Milford granite with the same Longmeadow trim used on Trinity Church in Boston. The very low cavernous arch over the doorway was used here by Richardson for the first time and became one of the most prominent and widely imitated characteristics of his style.
The picturesque carvings and corner gargoyles on the outside of the building are the design of Stanford White as is much of the interior wood detail, including the unusual barrel-vaulted ceiling in the book stack wing. The ceiling is butternut wood. White also designed the ornately carved mantelpiece of Portland stone in the reading room which bears the handsome bronze relief of Oliver Ames II, by Augustus St. Gaudens.
Renewed interest in Richardson's work has resulted in students from all over the country and abroad coming to study and examine this finely preserved example of his work.
The children's wing, built in 1931, was the gift of Mrs. William H. Ames (Fanny Holt Ames), a member of the Board of Trustees for 40 years, in memory of her husband William Hadwen Ames. The addition was designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston, the architectural firm formed by three members of H.H. Richardson's office upon his death in 1886.
In February of 1998, the library received a large gift from the estate of Fanny Holt Ames in order to increase the endowment funds of the library to benefit the school children of Easton.

Through the years, several small architectural changes have taken place within the library.  When the library was established, the top floors were used as the apartment for the  librarian. Indeed, the space had been used until the early 1990's as an apartment. The  book stack wing has also seen significant changes. Originally, it was separated by a  beautifully carved wooden screen and a desk for the librarian that created a barrier for the  public. In those days, it was accepted practice to keep the collection closed to the public  and to have the staff retrieve the desired material.

A building of great architectural interest, the Ames Free Library continues to be a vital  educational influence in the community it serves. Six generations of townspeople have  received learning, inspiration, and pleasure from the original bequest due to the  perseverance and dedication of successive trustees to the high ideals of the founder.


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