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Northampton, Forbes Library Talk

January 16 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST

Forbes Library presents the “Education of Calvin and Grace Coolidge” on Thursday, January 16 at 3 PM in the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum on the library’s second floor.

Join Archivist Julie Bartlett Nelson and Coolidge Committee member Rich Szlosek (Amherst College ’61) to learn about the educational backgrounds of our 30th President and First Lady.  Calvin Coolidge attended a one-room schoolhouse in Plymouth Notch, VT then went on to Black River Academy in Ludlow, VT, St. Johnsbury Academy, VT and Amherst College.  Grace Coolidge attended Burlington, VT public schools and the University of Vermont and became the first First Lady with a baccalaureate degree, profession and a paycheck in her own name.

This talk is part of the library’s ongoing series called Cookies with Curator where staff and guest experts present a show and tell about a local history topic. The program runs about an hour including time to view special items from the library’s collection. Cookies are served.

This program is free and open to the public.

About the Library
Forbes Library was designed by architect William C. Brocklesby of Hartford, Conn. in a style known as Richardsonian Romanesque, named after the work of Henry Hobson Richardson, the designer of Trinity Church in Boston. This style is characterized by the use of contrasting light and dark color stones (granite and sandstone), massive rounded arches resting on short, squat columns and complex roof systems. The library was dedicated on October 23, 1894.

According to the First Annual Report of the Trustees in 1895:
“After January 1, 1891, and a visit to many large libraries the trustees proceeded to erect the building. It is built of Milford granite with Longmeadow sandstone trimming, is estimated to accommodate 400,000 volumes, is unusually well adapted for library purposes, is an ornament to the city and praised by all visitors. Its cost was $113, 993.48…”

Guastavino Arches
One unique feature of the Forbes Library is the use of Guastavino arches, which had also beenused in the Boston Public Library. These brick arches, which support the first and second floors, from modular units or bays, of 17 x 14.8 feet. Judge Forbes had mandated in his will that the building be fireproof. The Guastavino arches are part of this safety design and are constructed of brick covered with white clay tile.

“The crowning glory of inflammability was the roof.” Erected by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, it was constructed entirely of steel girders covered with slate roofing tiles. Each separate slate was tied through with a nail by the roofer on the outside and was then twisted around a support rod by a worker inside the roof structure.

Judge Forbes had also insisted that the building be set aside from all other buildings so that there was no danger of it catching fire from a nearby structure. Thus, the building stands alone on a lovely, raised, park-like lot, and was called by many residents of Northampton “the castle on the hill.”


January 16
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Forbes Library
20 West Street
Northampton, MA 01060
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(413) 587-1016