Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2008 Preservation Award Winners
Harvard Public Library/ Bromfield School - Harvard
Harvard Public Library/ Bromfield School - Harvard

Adaptive Reuse

The new Harvard Public Library is located in the heart of Harvard’s town center, which is both a National Register Historic District and a Local Historic District, in the former Bromfield School building. Designed by the prominent architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns and built in 1877, the Bromfield School served as a schoolhouse until 2003 when it could no longer meet the needs of a modern academic building. The Trustees of the Bromfield School set out to find an alternative use for the beloved building. With the town exploring locations for a new library, the Bromfield School and its surrounding property emerged as an ideal location.

The adaptive reuse project restored the Queen Anne architectural and ornamental details inside and outside of the Bromfield School, repairing and restoring the woodwork, floors, and shelves and replicating the original light fixtures. The basement was reclaimed and transformed into a climate controlled genealogy room. Acoustical ceiling tile was removed from the second floor revealing grand wooden trusses in the Volunteers Hall, which now serves as a meeting space for community groups. The project required the building of a new addition to house the main library stacks, reading rooms, and study areas. The architects took full advantage of the site’s topography to situate the new addition so that it compliments rather than detracts from the Bromfield School. The Harvard Historical Commission described the new addition as having been designed with “thoughtful respect” and without “imitation.” The library was opened to the public in April of 2007 and has become an important architectural gem and civic center.

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