The Samuel S. Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell
We’ve visited the Samuel S. Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell on a few occasions and have thoroughly enjoyed it. As a place to work, it’s pretty good. There’s a little parking lot, which is nice, and a few study rooms. They were pretty hot when we last used one but there are worse fates!
The Lowell library was founded in 1844, and like a lot of other libraries during the 19th century seemed to bounce around a lot from place to place. The current library was built opened to the public in 1893. It was built to serve as a library and a Grand Army of the Republic hall for veterans of the Civil War.
From the outside, building itself is beautiful. A hulking stone thing with plenty of hints to its dual-use construction. The inside is no less stunning with lots of wood, stained glass and architectural details that are outstanding.
The Memorial Hall itself is perhaps the most amazing part of the library. After a fire in 1915, the city raised money for the restoration of the room - which included the purchase of three massive paintings of scenes of Ulysses S Grant during the Civil War. These had originally been painted for display in a cyclorama and are well worth a visit.
As the years passed and the Civil War generation passed too, the room was used for random non-library purposes. By the 1990s, the future of the library was in question - and yet it persisted. In 2002 the library was reopened having had major work done to make it a place for the 21st century.
In 2018, however, things went wrong again when a leaking roof damaged much of the library’s historical collection. Do you know how they deal with thousands of soaked books? They’re freeze dried and then warmed in a vacuum chamber that allows the water to go from solid to gas without becoming a liquid. Science is pretty cool!
Lowell is one of the homes to America’s industrial revolution, the home to Jack Kerouac and one of the nicest urban libraries we’ve visited. Support the library if you want to see its history continue.