The Westfield Atheneum

The Westfield Atheneum

Above:  The present site on Elm and Court streets, 1919

The Westfield Atheneum, thre free public library of the town was chartered in 1864 and first opened to the public as a subscription library, January 1, 1868. The original building was the gift of Hiram Harrison and was erected on Main street, where the United States Whip Company's factory now stands. The principal donor to the funds was Samuel Mather of Hartford, by whom the suggestion of founding a library in Westfield is said to have been made to Rev. Emerson Davis of the First Church, and many other individuals contributed generously.

old library on Main street
Left:  The old library on Main street, 1864

The present home of the Atheneum on Court street, formerly the resident of Hon. James Fowler, was the gift of the trustees of Westfield Academy and was first occupied by the library in March 1899. A fund of $80,000, bequeathed in 1915 by Hon M. B. Whitney, is now accumulating for a new building to be placed on the same lot. Since 1895 the support of the library has been in large part assumed by the town and its use has been free to all citizens of Westfield. There are at present about 38,000 volumes in the Atheneum and the annual circulation is over 90,000. The invested funds, apart from the Whitney bequest, amount to over $27,000. James C. Greenough, LL.D., is president of the corporation and George L. Lewis is the librarian.

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