Library history

APL looking downA BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BUILDING

The library opened at its present site on 74 North Main Street in November of 1907. Although from its beginnings in 1885, the collections of the “Attleboro Free Public Library Association” had been housed in buildings near the center of the city, there had not been a dedicated library building until J.L. Sweet donated land for one. His only stipulations were that the building be complete within a three year period of time and that it cost at least $25,000. The architectural firm of MacLean and Wright won a design competition for the building, and a local contractor, Grant Brothers, was hired to build it.

Construction costs were approximately $85,000, far surpassing Mr. Sweet’s request.

The original building was beautiful and ornate in execution but very simple in organization. One entered from front center stairs into a central foyer, which faced a small horseshoe-shaped main desk. The reading room to the left was dedicated to children’s service, the one to the right was for adults. A metal self-supporting book stack that was behind the desk and in the basement beneath it as well, held the main collection. The stone stairs that led from the entrance went to a grand gallery and meeting room on the second floor.

Modifications and additions were made to the building over the years. Most important was a series of additions (constructed 1962 to 1974) that were put on the back of the building to gain office and stack space. The latest construction and renovation project (1992 to 1994) maintained the beauty and dignity of the original building but expanded the usable space and allowed for an increase of approximately 50,000 volumes in the collection.