AuburndaleLibraryA while back we encouraged Village14 readers to send us guest posts.  Kathleen Maguire took us up on the offer and has periodically been contributing posts she calls Finding Newton Awe. Thanks Kathleen

The Osborne Family’s recent announcement of their plan, to purchase the shuttered St. Elizabeth Center in Newton Upper Falls and revitalize the property with dedicated public space for a community center, keeps moving my internal “Newton Awe” meter.  Wow, how cool is this development?!!  A local family pulls together personal financial resources to create a place for community engagement to flourish.  Isn’t that awesome?

 Indeed it is awesome and what makes it even more awesome is the fact this act of neighborhood philanthropy is pretty much par for the course here in Newton.  All over Newton, there are landmarks where neighborhood families have dug down deep to make the construction and maintenance of public space the focus of their legacies as neighbors.

 In my corner of Newton, The Auburndale Community Library stands as a testimony to the foresight of the Plummer Family.   In the late 1920’s, the community set out to build a library through subscriptions; but the effort didn’t advance very far.  In the late 1930’s, Frederick Plummer stepped up to the plate and provided most of the funds needed to build the Gothic Revival building designed by Smith and Walker of Boston.  The building was dedicated to Mr. Plummer’s parents in 1939 and expanded 10 years later with a children’s reading room in honor of Mr. Plummer’s sister, Annie Plummer Corey.

 The community has lovingly cherished this space.  Recently, I met a former Newton resident whose Waban childhood memories include many lovely moments spent at the “new” Auburndale Library across town from her childhood home.   Much to my surprise, she was very well acquainted with the library’s Gothic Revival architecture and the warm, inviting setting created for patrons under its vaulted ceilings.

 With testimonials like this one, it is no wonder that a band of stalwart neighborhood volunteers came together when the City felt forced to shutter the building for lack of funds in 2009.  The Auburndale Community Library was born and has thrived on community love, dedicated volunteer service and grassroots donations ever since.