South Hopedale Branch Library

                                                        
 By Betty A. Butcher

    On March 6, 1903 the first branch library in South Hopedale opened at the home of Mrs. Annie E.
    Smith, wife of Arthur F. W. Smith. They resided at 267 South Main Street. After having the library for five
    months, Mrs. Smith moved from town and Miss Angeline Dewing, who resided on Hartford Avenue
    just off South Main Street, took it over until 1904. After a short period of time with Miss Dewing, the
    branch was temporarily closed. It reopened in 1910, back in the home of Mrs. Smith.

    Books from the main library were periodically rotated, and also during this period of time books were
    sent down to the South Hopedale grammar school which was located at 50 Plain Street. The building
    is now (2009) the home of Norman and Christina Lussier. (The school was next to the South
    Hopedale Cemetery.) Mrs. Smith was the South Hopedale Branch librarian from March 1903 until
    August 1904, and then from September 1910 until she passed away in January 1924.

    On February 1, 1924 Miss Adeline A. Caldwell became the new branch librarian. The library was
    located at 1 Warfield Street, in the home now occupied by Paul and Rosemary Blatz. For fifty weeks of
    each year Miss Caldwell opened her home every Thursday so that residents living in the southern
    part of Hopedale might borrow books, periodicals and have the use of reference volumes. Every so
    many weeks, books, both adult and children’s, were exchanged with the main Bancroft Memorial
    Library in the center of Hopedale so that the branch was kept up to date on the latest arrivals plus
    revolving of the older selections.

    Miss Caldwell held this position for the next 25 years, retiring February 1, 1949. At this time her
    neighbor, Mrs. Constance “Connie” Jones, living at 2 Mellen Street, became the new branch librarian.
    She kept Thursdays as branch library day. Connie remained the librarian for the next 14 years until
    her retirement on July 1, 1963. Connie, as she was known to all, welcomed organized groups of
    children such as the Campfire Girls or a Boy Scout Troop to her quaint home that was built in 1735.
    (The home has since been razed.) This home was crammed with lore - silver spoons imprinted with
    Indian symbols and a showplace of her many souvenirs from foreign countries. Connie loved the
    many story hours she had for the younger children who were unable to enjoy the ones uptown at the
    Bancroft Memorial Library due to no transportation. Very few families owned two cars and you could
    safely walk the back roads and South Main Street during this period of time.

    Connie, having known me practically since I was born, knew I enjoyed reading, meeting people, was
    home raising two children and resided at 364A South Main Street, which in her opinion would be an
    ideal central location for the branch library. Therefore, on August 1, 1963, I was appointed the new
    branch librarian by the trustees of the Bancroft Memorial Library. For the next ten years I enjoyed
    being the librarian, with the branch being open now every Tuesday. During this period of time I met
    and was associated with many wonderful adult readers, children of the neighborhood and their
    parents, exchanging books with patients at Hopedale Garden Nursing Home who enjoyed reading,
    and exchanging reading materials with families that had a homebound child or parent who resided in
    the South Hopedale area.

    My brother-in-law, Butch, made me a beautiful wooden BRANCH LIBRARY sign that was installed at
    the entrance to our driveway. This sign was used by many of the residents in this area on South Main
    Street for years as a guide, until one day we noticed that it had been stolen. By this time and since
    most everyone down in South Hopedale knew where the branch library was, I never replaced the
    sign. On September 1, 1973, I resigned as the branch librarian. I was now employed by the Milford
    Area Visiting Nurse Association, and even though the library was only one day a week I had to leave
    my teenage daughters in charge until I got home and this wasn’t to my liking.

    The same day I resigned, the library trustees appointed Mrs. Elizabeth “Bess” Thayer of 25 Warfield
    Street the new South Hopedale branch librarian. Bess held this position until the branch library was
    closed on June 30, 1977 due to a decline in readership of all age groups. The elementary students
    have a library in the Memorial School, the older students have a library in the High School and now
    with most families living in this area having two cars, access to the main library in town was not a
    problem. Also many preschoolers in this day and age have their own preschool library at home plus
    are able to be transported to the main library for books or story hours.

    Most of this information for this account of the South Hopedale Branch Library was obtained from
    researching yearly editions of the librarians reports as shown in the yearly Hopedale Town Reports.
    Also information was obtained from the U S Census of 1900, 1910 and 1920.

    Betty later sent me the following about the locations

    Now about those pictures. (Referring to the ones I should take and add to this page.) 267 South Main
    Street where the first library was, was later John and Lucy DeLuca's house.  Do not know the people
    living there now.  Paul Blatz's house (1 Warfield Street - Adeline Caldwell) is still intact, but Connie
    Jones's house has been town down and a new larger house built on its site.  Of course I'm still here
    and Bess Thayer's is on Warfield Street.  The second branch that Miss Dewing had I think is the
    house on Hartford Avenue right after the old Green Store on the corner that is now a church.  It's
    where the Smalls live at 140 Hartford Avenue, Hopedale

    I asked Betty about the picture of the sign at the top of the page. Here's her reply.

    No, I do not know anything about that sign but it wouldn't surprise me that it was the original and
    posted on South Main Street and then went on to Miss Caldwell's (Blatz's) house and then on to
    Connie just down the street.  It never came here and the beautiful wooden one that my brother-in-law
    made and was stolen. I do not have a picture of it. I've searched all our pictures of that period of time
    that I had the library but no such luck.  Got pictures of this house but not of the sign.  Sure wish I did.

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     Thanks to Betty Butcher for this photo of the
    wonderful old house of Connie Jones, 2 Mellen
    Street, built in 1735, now gone, that housed the
    South Hopedale Library from 1949 to 1963.

    The home of Miss Adeline Caldwell at the corner of
    Mellen and Warfield streets - It was also the South
    Hopedale Branch Library from 1924 to 1949. The
    picture and Miss Caldwell's memories of her twenty-five
    years with the library in her home are from the
    Hopedale history collection of the Bancroft Library. Her
    recollections are near the bottom of this page.