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Jubal Howe Memorial Library

September 4, 1903

On March 4, 1901, a building committee consisting of Charles O. Green, Esquire, George N. Gates, and Edward L. Knowlton was appointed to obtain estimates and plans for a new library. [1]  By June 1902, work had begun on the new building. [2]  On September 4, 1903, the new Jubal Howe Library was honored with a town-wide dedication ceremony.  The new structure was a point of pride to the citizens of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

The Howe Library featured a gray granite base with grapevine mortar joints, a water-struck yellow-beige brick exterior with a natural sandstone trim.  The first-floor windows were double hung with decorative fixed arched-top transoms. 

At the staircase landing, between the first and second floor levels, light filtered through a beautiful stained-glass window depicting a sailing ship with the phrase, “Let Your Quest Be For Knowledge.”  The window had been purchased for $176 and was made by the Boston-based company Spence, Moakler & Bell.  


The recessed doors facing Main Street were 10-panel quarter-sawn oak with decorative leaded glass transoms and bronze pull plates.  The roof was laid with Brownville black slate and copper flashings.  The 24-inch projecting eaves were supported by ornamental brackets and moldings.


The interior areas were richly detailed with quartersawn oak elements, paneled wainscot, columns, crown moldings and highly decorative newel post components. Several of the rooms were adorned with ornate brick fireplaces. [3]

Dedication Ceremony

Chairman Daniel W. Bemis opened the dedication with a welcome address and then introduced Reverend Arthur H. Sedgwick, pastor of the Shrewsbury Congregational Church, who delivered the dedication prayer. The Schumann Quartet of Worcester performed a song followed by Major William T. Harlow’s historical address. 

Howe Memorial Library reading room 1903.jpg

He said: “It is a pleasure to me to come here today and participate with you in the dedication of your beautiful library building. As a native of Shrewsbury, I share it within and without. And I share with you, too, in gratitude to the generous donor who, after providing for those who were dependent upon him, gave the residue of his estate to provide a public library for his native town. When he wrote his last testament, and made the town of Shrewsbury his residuary legatee, doubtless he foresaw that when the town should come into possession and enjoyment of his legacy, it was not his contemporaries but their descendants, who were to be his real beneficiaries.” [4]

Library Reading Room 1903

Jubal Howe was born in Shrewsbury December 27, 1793, his parents being Daniel and Hannah (Hall) Howe. His great grandfather, Captain Daniel Howe, was one of the earliest settlers in our town. The father of Jubal Howe died in early life, leaving a large family, Jubal being about 12 years of age. He was thus early obliged to seek a livelihood. 

He is said to have learned the watchmaking trade as an apprentice of watch manufacturer, Luther Goddard of Shrewsbury. In 1821 we find Jubal Howe working at his trade in Savannah, Georgia and in later years he conducted a very successful jewelry business in Boston.


In 1830 Jubal Howe married Ann Jeffrey Sumner, grand-daughter of Reverend Joseph Sumner, who was the second pastor pf the Shrewsbury Church, 1762–1824. In 1835 he built a residence in Newton Massachusetts and there made his home until his death, February 2, 1874.

Jubal Howe left by Will the bulk of his property in trust for the comfort and support of his daughter, Ann Jeffrey Howe, and at her death, March 23, 1898, by the terms of the Will one thousand dollars was paid to the Ministerial Fund of the Congregational Society, and the residue to the Town of Shrewsbury, for the purpose of establishing or maintaining a Free Public Library. [5]


(1) Shrewsbury Public Library; Annual Reports 1899–1908, Shrewsbury, Mass., R352; No. 174, “Proceedings of the Annual Town Meeting, March 4, 1901” (The Blanchard Press, 1904) 
(2) Shrewsbury Public Library; Annual Reports 1899–1908, Shrewsbury, Mass., R352; No. 176, “Report of the Building Committee of The Howe Memorial Library, 30 January 1904” (The Blanchard Press, 1904)
(3) Lamoureux Pagano Associates, Feasibility Study, Building Assessment – Exterior Envelope, Interiors, pages 6-15. (
(4) Transcribed by Kristine Gustafson and Erik Larson, Articles relating to Shrewsbury: from S
crapbooks kept by George E., Emma F. and Alden C. Stone Over the past 100 years (1903 Special to the Telegram, Shrewsbury Historical Society, 2023)
(5) Dedication Brochure for the Jubal Howe Memorial Library, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts September 24, 1903

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