A Magnificent Gift Formally Received by the Town. Mr. Winslow’s Address
In spite of the atrocious weather last Tuesday an audience of some 200 people gathered in the afternoon to celebrate with exercises in the Congregational church, the dedication of the Morrill Memorial Library.
The beautiful library building was also thrown open to public inspection. Many people looked for the first time at this grandly arranged institution for the education and uplifting of the people. The edifice is a handsome structure of stone, overlooking broad and beautiful lawns, and located at the junction of our principal business thoroughfare, Washington street and Walpole street, the town’s most desirable residential street. Near it are the Congregational church, the High school and a number of Norwood’s finest private residences. The building stands on an eminence and overlooks one of the busiest and most prosperous manufacturing towns in New England.
The approach to the building is imposing, comprising two sweeping walks leading from Walpole street, and a circular platform, on the edge of which are two elaborate bronze lamps. The building has been pronounced by the state librarian as the finest library building of its size in the whole United States. It is a two story structure, built of granite from the Dodlin Granite Company of Oakland, Maine. It is of Romanesque style of architecture. One of the most notable exterior features lies in the carved ston tablets, on which are found the names of leading ancient and modern authors. The outer vestibule is reached through an arch finished in marble, with wainscoting. The interior is finished in mahogany after the renaissance. In the transom lights above the windows are painted fac-similes of old book-marks.
The principal departments of the building are a large and handsomely arranged reading room. Whose walls and ceiling combine simplicity with grandeur, a delivery room, a librarian’s room, a magnificently large-stack-room for books with a capacity for 13,000 – all on the first floor. On the second floor is a small hall, seating 170 people, to be used only for gatherings of literary or educational nature.
The public library now has something like 10,000 volumes. With the new reading room and its commodious and elegant quarters, the library will have greatly enlarged capacities for usefulness.
The Morrill Memorial Library building was presented to the town by Mr. and Mrs. Geo. H. Morrill, in memory of their beloved daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill, who died of typhoid fever while on a pleasure trip in Florida, March 7, 1895. She was a beautiful young woman of 23 years, of great refinement, culture and high literary taste. It was to carry out one of the dreams and ambitions of this young and beautiful life, untimely taken by disease, that her parents presented this grand memorial to the town.
The dedicatory exercises Tuesday afternoon were presided over by Mr. George H. Morrill, Jr., and included an organ voluntary by Mrs. E. P. Moreland, prayer by Rev. C. F. Weeden of the Congregational church, singing of the hymns, “Swell the Anthem, Raise the Song,” “O God, Beneath Thy Guiding Hand,” and “America,” and speech making. The building was formally presented to the town in a very happy speech by Mr. Frank T. Morrill of New York, a son of the donors. Judge John C. Lane made an able and interesting address of acceptance on behalf of the library trustees, and Chairman Frank A. Fales of the board of selectmen spoke in his usual happy and graceful way on behalf of the town. A very excellent address, historical and biographical, and emphasizing the work and meaning of the splendid gift, was made by Representative Francis O. Winslow, who said: -
“We are surrounded to-day with hallowed associations. The lives, labors and usefulness of men of days gone by extend to our time. The stream of progress is ever widening. One hundred years ago the Rev. Jabez Chickering – his memorial window is before us – gave a fund for a public library, the income of which has from that time to this been devoted to the purchase of books. To-day we meet to receive a library edifice, the gift of our honored townsman, Mr. George H. Morrill.
“Yesterday it was his. To-day it is ours. It is not ours for personal possession and selfish enrichment. It is ours to possess as a sacred trust, for the use and benefit of those now living in the town and their children. It is given, without reservation and without limitation, except that it shall be ever devoted to literary and educational purposes. No attempt was made to control its trustees. It is a gift of love to the people.
“In these times, when the voice of discontent and complain against the rich is often heard, it is very gratifying to have this costly library stand as an object lesson. It is an expression of good will on the part of donors and of confidence that the people can be trusted with the costliest gifts, and that they will be true to the heritage intimately connected with their lives and homes. Here all have equal privileges. There is no distinction of rank, riches, favoritism or religion here.
“It is said that the ‘greatest grace of a gift is, perhaps, that it anticipates and admits of no return.’ We can only express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for this great act of generosity. The library building is a tribute to the memory of one held in the fondest of parental affection.
“Many of our citizens have never known the person concerning whom the celebration of this day derives its chief significance. Sarah Bon Morrill was known to some of us from our childhood. We are glad to pay our tribute to her personal worth. For many years she was absent from home, devoted to study and culture. She was a beautiful young woman, of noble spirit and ambition. Her life within the home gave hope of large success in the future. Her memory is now forever enshrined within this beautiful and most fitting edifice. Her portrait will henceforth take on an ideal form. Her face will become a composite picture, viewed with the loving eyes and sympathetic hearts of those who see in her a resemblance to their own daughters.
“In the marble room of the Lick Observatory at Mt. Hamilton (CA) may be seen an old carpenter’s bench, which was brought from South America in 1849, and upon which by honest and faithful labor, James Lick laid the foundation of that fortune, by means of which he conferred great benefits upon mankind. Above, in the massive dome, is place the costly telescope, and still above rise the heavens, with mysteries and glorious truths. It illustrates the truth that there must ever be first the foundation of hard work. Then follows realization or achievement; finally, the ideal for the highest and best.
“And so this library building is but a means to high aim, to purify, ennoble and enrich the lives of the young, drawing them away from unworthy places. It gives to them the best surroundings and most elevated books, and the example of pure, good and noble men.
A Magnificent Gift Formally Received by the Town.
The Morrill Library (undated, unknown publication)