An Oct. 8 party will celebrate Town Meeting’s approval of using Community Preservation Act money to update the wiring at the James Library in Norwell and renovate the third-floor concert hall in the Victorian landmark overlooking the Town Common — and show off the results.
Pictured: The James Library in Norwell Next
Wendy Bawabe, who chairs the James’s board of trustees, said she thinks the town supported spending public money because “the James serves as an informal community center.”
Pictured: The exterior of the James Library Next
One of a few private libraries in the state that is open to the public, the James is owned by the nearby First Parish Church but operates independently as a nonprofit. It is run by part-time and full-time employees as well as about 50 volunteers, said Caroline Chapin, the library’s director.
Pictured: Artist Michael Coyne's work hangs on the walls in the downstairs gallery at the library Next
The Town Meeting approved of $63,000 in May 2012 for the recently finished renovation work, which came in under budget at $48,769.74, according to project manager Sarah Lalone.
Pictured: Director Caroline Chapin walked upstairs to the concert hall at the library. Next
The James is named for its first benefactor, native son Josiah James, who became a successful Chicago businessman and wanted to memorialize his early settler ancestors. According to a local history, James originally donated $1,000 to buy books for the Sunday school library of the Unitarian church.
Pictured: A sitting area at the library Next
The compact, three-story Italianate building quickly became a public meeting place for groups ranging from the Readers Circle, Young People’s Christian Union and Ladies Sewing Circle, to the Couple Club and Norwell Historical Society.
Pictured: Quinn McConnaughey, 11, of Cohasset, practiced piano in the newly renovated concert hall area of the library. Next
The James continued as a private library, then re-invented itself as a combination library and arts center in the 1990s. The first floor became an art gallery — with monthly shows from June through September — and the top floor a small concert hall for guest artists and local music students.
Pictured: Piano teacher Dona Maher worked with Kyra Neumann, 8, of Norwell, in the newly renovated concert hall in the upstairs area of the library. Next
Chapin hopes for a crowd at the community Open House on Oct. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., when there will be refreshments, live music, and presentations to the craftspeople who worked on the restoration project.
“We want to thank the residents of Norwell,’’ she said, “and to show off this beautiful Victorian gem.”
Pictured: Little heart shaped music notes hang in the entranceway of the library Back to the beginning
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