History

Waban Library Center

Rich History, Promising Future

In 1928, a group of Waban neighbors envisioned a community reading room. It would provide its residents, particularly its children, with a quiet, comfortable place to enjoy reading and to foster a love of learning. This place would house the neighborhood’s growing collection of books of lasting interest to Waban, which had been stored in various locations around the village including the post office, local pharmacy, and the basement of the Angier School. With this vision, and an undeniable sense of purpose and passion, the Waban Public Library Association was born.

The Waban Library Center front door at nightFrom every corner of Waban

The neighborhood rallied together with great spirit. Over 550 Waban families, merchants, and organizations (including the Waban Improvement Society and the Waban Woman’s Club) donated $63,500 (the equivalent of about $800,000 today) towards construction of the library. Other residents contributed land, deeding 46,000 square feet of ideal property in the center of Waban Square, at the intersection of Beacon Street, Woodward Street, and Pine Ridge Road. Individual memorial funds contributed toward attractive furnishings, including a custom-made charging desk, library bureau, magazine and newspaper racks, as well as shelving for 4,000 volumes. Waban resident Mr. Gifford LeClear (of the prominent Boston architectural firm, Densmore, LeClear & Robbins) devoted countless hours towards perfecting the architectural design. And even the Waban Boys and Girls Scouts were a part of it by donating silk United States and Massachusetts flags.

Completed in 1930 and placed on the Register of National Historic places in 1990, the Tudor Revival-style library is built of Harvard Brick, limestone trim, and a slate roof. It includes separate reading rooms for adults and children adorned with carved woodworking, leaded-glass windows, and a fireplace. With great pride and jubilant celebration, Waban gave The Waban Library to the City of Newton on May 2, 1930, to forever serve Waban and all of Newton’s villages. In the spring of 2008, however, the City of Newton closed the library due to financial constraints, clouding the future of this historic landmark.

The Neighborhood Rallies

Eighty years after the library’s inaugural opening, spearheaded by Alice Jacobs, residents and merchants rallied together once again. Private donations of funds and services allowed us to reopen the doors of the renamed Waban Library Center (WLC) in September 2009. The WLC, independent from the Newton Free Library, is completely staffed by volunteers and supported by the community. Building upon its history as a village reading room, the WLC today serves as a gateway for lifelong learning and as a hub for intellectual, cultural, social and physical enrichment.

Offerings

For the first time ever, the library offers an abundant selection of:

  • classes
  • exhibits
  • programs

As a not-for-profit, privately funded organization, the WLC depends on donations and class registrations to cover its annual licensing fee with the City and basic overhead costs.

The WLC is your place

Enjoy our collection of books; catch up with a friend; behold works of visiting artists; connect your laptop in our wireless environment; learn a new language; play an instrument; attend a concert or lecture; take a yoga class; engage with your community. Be part of it – make a tax-deductible contribution, register for a class, volunteer your time. We need everyone’s support to help this historic place endure and thrive in the new century. See www.wabanimprovement.org for more information.

— by Brenda Kostyk