The Boston Public Library (BPL) has been bringing literary joy to Jamaica Plain since 1876, from reading rooms and book depositories, to the first neighborhood branch, to a massive upcoming renovation.
The Jamaica Plain Branch began its life in 1876, as a small Reading Room in Curtis Hall at 20 South St., with books supplied by the Roxbury Branch. In 1877, it expanded and became the first BPL branch to purchase books from public funds.
After a fire in 1908, the library moved into what was then the Masonic Hall—the building on the corner of Centre Street and Seaverns Avenue. The library’s present building at 12 Sedgwick St. was opened in 1911. It was the first building specifically built by the City to function as a branch library. An addition was built in 1936 and the interior was remodeled in 1963.
A major renovation of the building that will significantly expand its footprint and create new teen and maker spaces is currently in the planning stages.
BPL came to the Hyde Square area in 1897, with a small book deposit in the rear of a neighborhood pharmacy at the corner of Lamartine and Paul Gore Streets.
It expanded into its own building in 1905 under the name of the Boylston Branch, named for the Boylston Railroad Station. The current white limestone building at 433 Centre St. opened in 1932, due to the need for larger space.
Designed by Maginnis and Walsh in the Jacobean style, the large arched entrance leads to a large interior space with wood and glass partitions dividing the adult and children’s area. The ceilings, decorated with plaster moldings, are reputedly inspired by the Rufford Abbey Library in England.
The name of the branch was officially changed in 1940 to the Monsignor Arthur T. Connolly Branch, as a tribute to a long-time member of the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees and pastor of the nearby Blessed Sacrament Church.
Egleston Square got its own branch in 1953. That building, at 2044 Columbus Ave., was designed by the firm of Isidor Richmond and Carney Goldberg, Architects and Engineers.
Much of this information came from the Boston Public Library website at bpl.org.