The Medfield Memorial Public Library’s grand opening in 1917 is reenacted on the front steps of the library for the centennial celebration. Photos by Laura Drinan
By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
The Medfield community gathered on October 1 for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Over one hundred years ago, a man named Granville Dailey, a New York City native who summered in Medfield, contacted William G. Perry, an architect, to draw up the plans for a library in town. Soon after, the library was built and named the Medfield Memorial Public Library, in memory of Dailey’s late wife and late youngest daughter.
On Sunday, spectators were momentarily transported back to 1917 with a reenactment of Dailey presenting the keys to the library to the Medfield selectmen.
“When the town first established a public library, as many of you are aware, it was housed across the at Town Hall. However, back then, Town Hall had this annoying habit of burning down and taking the library with it,” joked Granville Dailey, otherwise known as Steve Small, a member of the Medfield Gazebo Players.
Small stood on the original steps of the library with his wife, Cynthia, who played Dailey’s oldest daughter, May Belle, and the Medfield Board of Selectman. After Dailey presented the selectmen with the keys to the library, they cut the red ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the public library.
Inside the library, Richard DeSorgher spoke about the library when it was first established. “Back in 1917, there was really great pride and great excitement gripping the town of Medfield as the news of Granville Dailey’s generous donation and construction of a new public library became known,” said DeSorgher. “Dailey stipulated that this building be forever maintained as a free public library. With his love of history, he also stipulated that the library would always provide space for a permanent home to the Medfield Historical Society.”
The cost of the library, in 1917, totaled $76,374.20, and Dailey’s demands are still being honored one hundred years later.
Library director, Kristen Chin, spoke about the future of libraries. “Libraries are malleable; they change over time based on the needs of the community,” she said. “While the physical offerings of a library will change over time due to technology and the physical collections of a library may diminish, the public library will continue to partner with community leaders and organizations. They will offer space and services that only public libraries can and that space will be open to all.”
The Massachusetts House of Representatives offered its congratulations with a resolution from the Commonwealth that recognized one hundred years of dedication, commitment, educating, and enlightening the Medfield community through the library.
The community was invited to eat cake and cupcakes while listening to live music from Seaglass Sound as they socialized. Children’s events were offered downstairs in the MakerSpace STEAM Room, which opened earlier this year, and were welcomed to see Kurt Jackson, a children’s storyteller, upstairs.
On display in the library lobby were blueprints of the library from architect William G. Perry, and vintage felted hats. Granville and his daughter stayed in costume for the celebration to take photos with library visitors.
“Libraries are not going anywhere. They are important to the fabric of our society,” said Chin.
“And I do promise that there will be books in the future.”