Frederic C. Adams Public Library
Adams Heritage Center • Kingston
Rehabilitation & Restoration
In 1895, Kingston businessman Frederic C. Adams bequeathed funds to the town for the construction of a public library, and his family donated the land on which the library was to be built. The Frederic C. Adams Public Library, designed in the Colonial Revival style by Boston architect Joseph Everett Chandler, was dedicated in 1898. Almost a century later, in 1994, the library moved to a new facility, and the vacant Adams Library fell into disrepair. In 1999, Preservation Massachusetts listed the building as one of the state’s most endangered historic resources. In that year, the Frederic C. Adams Heritage Center Development Committee was organized, with representatives from the Kingston Historical Commission, Master Plan Implementation Committee, Cultural Council and Kingston Public Library, as well as the Town Planner and two citizens-at-large. The committee commissioned a pre-development study funded in part by a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) grant.
Work on the building, which also utilized Community Preservation Act funds, proceeded in phases and took more than a decade to complete, from 2001 to 2012. In 2002, the Friends of Kingston’s Heritage was established as a nonprofit entity; the volunteer group worked closely with town committees and officials to provide supplemental funding for the renovation of the building. Phase One, which utilized a second MPPF grant, included roof replacement, gutter repair, repointing of chimneys, and stabilization of the slate roof. Columns were replicated and replaced at the rear of the building. Full accessibility was achieved for the first time through a sympathetic addition, built of glass with brick panels and set back from the façade. Interior renovations restored concealed, missing, and altered features. The circular Trustee’s Room was returned to its original configuration. Woodwork was restored, and removal of acoustic panels revealed ceilings whose delicate plaster ornaments were restored, or in some places re-created. The original brass chandelier in the reading room was replicated using historic photographic evidence. The Adams Heritage Center, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, now houses storage space for the town’s historic documents. The rehabilitation ensures the continued use of this significant architectural and cultural feature of the town’s historic center.