Future for original North Dartmouth Library uncertain

Jul 2, 2019

The future of the original North Dartmouth Library remains in question after a June 18 vote by the Dartmouth Board of Library Trustees to leave the building behind when the current library moves to its new premises on Cross Road later this year.

The little building — which was built in 1911 — sits behind the current North Dartmouth Library on Tucker Road, itself scheduled for demolition.

“We don’t have the funds to move it,” said Director of Libraries Lynne Antunes, adding that they also don’t have a use for the building, which has fallen into disrepair.

This leaves the historic library in a sticky situation, as the current library is scheduled to be demolished — and Tucker Road itself will be moved to form a new intersection with State and Hathaway roads.

Any plans to move the building within the vicinity must therefore wait until plans for the new intersection are drawn up.

Members of the Dartmouth Historical Commission decried the “demolition by neglect” of the historic library at a meeting on July 1.

The Library Trustees have turned it over to the Town of Dartmouth — but according to Historical Commission member Diane Gilbert, the Town doesn’t want it either.

The building measures only 20 feet by 25 feet. 

It was originally constructed at Smith Mills on State Road and later moved to its current location.

All of the Historical Commission members expressed dismay that the Trustees did not want to keep the little library.

“We’re all disturbed, for sure,” said Commission Chair Judith Lund.

“It’s frustrating,” agreed Gilbert.

Commission member Bob Harding commented, “This is another example of demolition by neglect by the Town of Dartmouth … time after time after time we run into the same problem.”

Harding said that he remembered the building when it was still in use back when he was a student at the Gidley School in the 40s. 

“It was popular,” he said. “It was packed with books.”

He added, “It’s a cute little building, and it’s not very big. And it wouldn’t take an awful lot of resources to do something — to keep it around.”

But Lund noted that the building’s small size made it difficult to find a use for it. 

The commission tossed around ideas including a coffee shop, equipment storage, a tiny apartment, or a gallery for police memorabilia. 

Sue Guiducci from the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society commented, “It’s already been a home for mowers, a home for cats. I think that it deserves a little bit more than that.”

Commission member Jordan Berson said, “Expecting the police to do something with this building is a dream.”

At the meeting the Historical Commission voted to frame an old photograph of the little library in its original location on State Road next to the fire station.

They also discussed sending a letter to the town outlining their concerns with letting the building fall into disrepair.

“Our role is to advise the Select Board,” said Lund. “We’re going to give them some advice.”