History of the Library

The Stoneham Public Library had its beginning in the winter of 1858-59, when a group of Stoneham residents, spearheaded by Colonel Lyman Dike and Dr. William Heath, banded together to advocate the founding of a public library for the town. After a favorable town vote was passed, local organizations and owners of private libraries lent their hands to the burgeoning institution, contributing financial support and hundreds of books to the collection.

The library’s location moved several times over the years to accommodate its ever-increasing collection. In 1903, then trustee George Hinchcliffe wrote to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, asking for funds to aid in the construction of a library that would best serve the Stoneham community in terms of material availability and social utility. Carnegie obliged, wrote his secretary, with a generous gift of $15,000, and in the following year, Stoneham saw the development of its present Public Library, which stands to this day at the corners of Main, Maple, and Warren Streets.

Throughout the rest of the 20th Century, the Stoneham Public Library underwent a number of modifications to meet the needs of Stoneham. These improvements were thanks to a considerable sum of money from wealthy Stoneham resident Annie Brown in the 1930s, and a large-scale renovation project of the library in the 1980s. These two events enabled a physical expansion of the library building to include a children’s library, meeting rooms, technology, and up-to-date equipment. Other changes took place – and continue to take place in the 21st Century – each in turn adding some significant and positive change to the library that shows the institution’s importance to the community.

For a more extensive history of the library, click here.