With a population of about 10,000, Norwell seem small to some, so it was pleasing to Caroline Chapin, director of the James Library and Center for the Arts, that three places in town -- including her own library -- were cited by the state’s Great Places in Massachusetts Commission
“We’re a small venue, but we have an audience reach across the South Shore, so we’re thrilled to be recognized,” Chapin said in an interview. So thrilled, Chapin said, that the library tweeted the news around.
Sites in Boston, the Cape Cod and islands, and historically notable communities such as Salem, Gloucester, and New Bedford dominated the list of 1,000 entries. But the commission cited places in hundreds of cities and towns for their historic, cultural, and natural values. The commission said it worked for more than a year to sort through more than 12,000 online nominations.
The James Library originally was the town’s public library, but now also hosts art shows and musical lessons and performances. The fact that this organization, a very small non-profit, was cited shows that small can be beautiful, Chapin said.
“Outside we look like a great historical building in Norwell Center, but inside there’s a lot going on here,” Chapin said. “We have a lot packed into this small building.”
Another spot with a lot going on that got a nod from the commission was the South Shore Natural Science Center on Jacobs Lane. Located on 30 acres surrounded by 200 acres of meadows, woodlands, and a pond, the non-profit says it is “dedicated to educating the public about the natural and cultural environments of the South Shore.”
A third spot [below], noted for its natural beauty, is Norris Reservation. Operated by the Trustees of the Reservation, Norris Reservation is on 129 acres and includes 2 miles of walking trails as well as a pond, the remains of a water mill, a “gurgling brook,” and a pine forest, according to its website.
The list of 1,000 was meant to promote tourism to some of the lesser-known sites around the state, and Chapin said she hopes the listing will draw newcomers to her 19th-century building.
“There’s a lot going on here,” she said. “We’ve got programming for all ages, and music lessons. And a really unusual library that’s free and open to everyone."