Memorial Hall Library
In 1870 John Smith, owner of Smith and Dove Mill, offered to donate $25,000 to establish a public library providing the town raise an equal sum. The town was able to raise a substantial amount, but was short of the $25,000. They then added funds previously raised to construct a monument to the Civil War to reach the goal. A two story structure was built; the Library on the first floor and the Civil War Memorial on the second floor. At the dedication on May 30, 1873, the saying "Lest We Forget" in honor of Andover's Civil War Veterans was placed above the front door. The second floor Memorial and the saying have remained intact throughout the Library's history.
Memorial Hall has several Civil War artifacts including, an early portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Charles Berry, original material on the anti-slavery movement, artifacts of Andover abolitionists, an authentic anti-slavery banner, a plaque of the declaration of Memorial Day, a sword and funeral rosettes worn by Major Holt, who escorted Lincoln's body in the funeral procession.
The Library became a sub Regional center in the New Eastern Regional Public Library System. In 1997 the Massachusetts Library System went to a Regional System and Andover became the Regional Reference Library of the Northeast Region.
Additions to the original Library
- 1926 - addition of a Children's Room
- The plans for this addition were approved in 1925. The architects were Coolidge and Carlson.
- MHL moved to lower Town Hall during the renovation.
- 1961 - extension of the Children's Room
- 1966 - the Reading Room was extended
- The Reading Room extension was dedicated on November 20, 1966 according to the 1966 Town of Andover Annual Report. The expansion had begun in 1959. In addition to the expanded Reading Room, named for Miriam Putnam, an expanded Children's Room, and outdoor areas were added.
- 1988 - On October 30, a ground breaking ceremony for completion of a rear wing that more than doubled the size of the library: the old section was 20,000 square feet in size; the addition was 30,000 square feet.
- 2013 - new patio completed with tables, chairs, and plantings
A Chronology of Memorial Hall library can be found on Chronology of Memorial Hall Library
Miriam Putnam, MHL library director from 1939 to 1967, wrote, "Civil War Memorial Expands to Meet Present Day Requirements." See below:
- Andover, What It Was, What It Is. : 300th Anniversary, May 30 - June 2, 1946, (974.45 And), fifth section.
- Memorial Hall Library file in the Andover Room.
- Andover a Century of Change:1896 - 1996 by Eleanor Motley Richardson, (974.45 Ric), page 198 and 199.
- "Fiftieth Anniversary of Dedication of Andover's War Memorial Hall Occurs Decoration Day", The Evening Tribune, May 22, 1923.
- "Andover Memorial Hall Library to Mark its 75th Anniversary," Lawrence Evening Tribune, May 19, 1948.
- Andover Town Report 1996.
- "Town wants historic look back at library," Eagle Tribune, July 15, 1993.
- "Memorial Hall Library extends reach with new patio," Andover Townsman, July 4, 2013, p. 1.
- "Shedding light on library elm's past," Andover Townsman, August 29, 2013, p. 12.