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. It was razed in 2017.) 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 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.

    Here are comments that appeared on Facebook after the October 15, 2018 ezine about the
    branch library was posted.

    Susan Butcher Mulhern - I remember so well when the library was in our home. We still
    have some of the book shelves in that area that my father had built for the library.

    John Gagnon - The last was the Thayer's House. Warfield Street.

    Susan Butcher Mulhern - Yes - we had the library from 63-73 and then it went to the
    Thayer’s house. My sister and I had to cover the library after school until my mother got
    home from work.

    Lorraine Olson I remember when Mrs. Thayer would pick up and deliver books for me when
    I was home with my daughter and no vehicle! Talk about perks!

    Ann Harris Wolfe - I used to go there all the time. I got a lot of Nancy Drew Mysteries there!
    It was wonderful.

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