History of Our Building
Dr. James Cummings built a small store at the corner of the lot at Church and East Main Streets. A residence was already in place. The house was eventually moved to Main Street.
Dr. Elihu Hawkes, a prominent North Adams physician, purchased the property for his use. Dr. Hawkes was also responsible for influencing Nathan Drury to donate land to be used for a school.
The land was sold to Sanford Blackinton, a local mill owner. Designed by Troy architect Marcus Fayette Cummings, the new house began to rise in 1867 under the direction of Henry Pierce, buildier and superintendent. Taking more than two years to complete, the building reportedly cost $75,000 - an enormous amount of money at the time. Blackinton resided here until his death in 1885. His second wife, Eliza, remained until her death in 1896.
A.C. Houghton, first Mayor of North Adams, purchased the Blackinton mansion as a gift to the City, and a memorial to his deceased brother Andrew Jackson Houghton.
A Brief History of the
Life of Sanford Blackinton
Born in 1797 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Moved to North Adams in 1801. Blackinton married twice, with a total of 4 children, all of whom predeceased him. First marriage to Mary Russel in 1821; she died in 1830. There were three children by this 1st marriage:
William, who died at 55 from shellfish poisoning;
Mary F. Austin, who died at two years of age.
Second marriage to Eliza in 1834; one child who died at age 6. Blackinton died July 27, 1885 at 88. Eliza lived alone in three downstairs rooms until her death in 1896, when the estate was sold to A.C. Houghton.
Blackinton was a prominent factory owner in North Adams--beginning his career at the Blackinton Mill (A.K.A. The Boys Factory) in the Blackinton section of North Adams. Served as an apprentive to Artemas Crittenden at 16. Later served as a partner with Rufus Wells and Joseph White, eventually becoming sole owner. Partnered with son William until Williams's death in 1875. Organized the S. Blackinton Woolen Manufacturing Company. Blackinton was the first mill owner to move away from the site of his business, moving in 1872 to the Blackinton Mansion. He served as director of the Adams Bank, was an active and strong member of the Baptist Church, and politically active with the Republican party.
Renovations to the Building
Architect Edwin T. Barlow of North Adams was contracted to renovate the building for use as a library. All work was performed by North Adams firms and laborers.
Furnishings of stacks, tables and chairs (excluding the current Reference room) were from state library bureau.
The cost of renovation totaled $19000. $10,000 was contributed by A.C. Houghton, with an additional $9,000 appropriated by the City Council.
Much rewiring and cleaning/refreshing of the building accomplished.
2003 - 2005:
Library operates from the former WallStreeter Shoe factory at the corner of Willow Dell and Union Street for nearly two years while the mansion undergoes major expansion and renovation. Photovoltaic and geothermal features incorporated for energy efficiency. Library re-opens in the mansion on May 31, 2005.
Brief History of the North Adams Public Library
The town voted the sum of $2,500 to establish and maintain a PUBLIC LIBRARY in rented rooms in the DAVENPORT BLOCK on Main Street. The former NORTH ADAMS LIBRARY ASSOCIATION donated its collection of 4,750 volumes to the new library.
Having quickly outgrown its quarters, the library moved to rooms in the RICHARDSON HOUSE at the corner or North Church and East Main Streets. 1896:
The Honarable Albert C. Houghton, 1st Mayor of North Adams, purchased the former Sanford Blackinton residence and gave it to the city for a public library as a memorial to his brother Andrew Jackson Houghton. Mr. Houghton also donated $10,000 to make the building suitable for use as a library. This sum did not prove adequate for the necessary alterations and repairs, so the City Council appropriated an additional $9,000. 1898:
The library moves into the HOUGHTON MEMORIAL BUILDING. For the first time, a card catalog of volumes owned is available to the public, and patrons are allowed to go into the stacks for their own books. 1900:
WILLIAM ARTHUR GALLUP gave $500 to furnish a READING ROOM FOR CHILDREN. This is the present "Gallup Room" on the second floor. At the time the room was established, girls exchanged their books on Tuesdays and Fridays, and boys visited the library on Mondays and Thursdays. This is also the year the first classroom collections were loaned to teachers. The BLACKINTON LIBRARY also became a branch of the North Adams Public Library. 1901:
A branch library was started in "the Beaver." 1931:
The HOUGHTON BRANCH was established. 1930's:
During the Depression, the library served as a place of warmth and welcome for hundreds of local persons out of work. In 1933 a charging machine was installed. A picture collection was started and deposits maintained at Haskins and Brayton
ARCHER and HOUGHTON branches CLOSED 1984:
The library celebrates its CENTENNIAL of service to the community. A major renovation and restoration effort is undertaken, with the Reference, Circulation, Main Hall, and Children's rooms receiving paint, wallpaper, carpet and overall "face-lifts." 1998:
CENTENNIAL of library being in the Houghton Memorial Building.
Online circulation system through C/WMARS was implemented. Circulation desk was moved into the central hallway.
C. Agusta Dunton--librarian prior to moving into the Houghton Memorial Building
|Elisabeth Hardman Furst
|Mildred Fuller Richmond
|Ruth B. Brown
|C. Jeanne Griffin