Library service began in the Allston neighborhood in 1889 with a delivery station in Frank Howe’s drugstore at 26 Franklin Street. The Boston Public Library (B.P.L.) stated, “Horse-drawn carriages delivered books from other branch libraries to local businesses that displayed the books for their customers. The demand for books increased as the delivery station grew, and volunteers organized expanded library services.”
In 1905, the Allston Reading Room at 354 Cambridge Street replaced the sixteen-year-old delivery station. A B.P.L. librarian staffed the reading room. In 1924, it became a full-service branch of the B.P.L.
Five years later, the branch moved to rented space at 161 Harvard Avenue. Fifty years after that, in 1979, the B.P.L. celebrated the 90th anniversary of service to the residents of Allston.
Sadly, Allston would soon lose library service for twenty years. In 1981, amid statewide budget cuts, the Allston Branch closed. Neighborhood groups lobbied for the reinstatement of library service.
In 1993, Mayor Thomas M. Menino promised a new branch for Allston. Seven years later, on January 19, 2000 ground was broken for the new Allston Branch.
Designed by Machado & Silvetti Associates, Inc., a Boston-based architectural firm of international reach, the branch officially opened for business at 300 North Harvard Street in Allston on Saturday, June 16, 2001. On March 13, 2003 the branch was renamed the Honan-Allston Branch in honor of the late City Councilor Brian Honan. In 2006, tree guards and bicycle racks designed by sculptor Rich Duca were added to the Honan-Allston Branch Library.
Allston is northeast of Brighton. The two neighborhoods are separated from the rest of Boston by Brookline, Massachusetts.
The Charles River defines the northern boundary of both neighborhoods. It also defines the eastern boundary of Allston.
Library service to the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain began in 1897 with a small book deposit in the rear of a neighborhood pharmacy at the corner of Lamartine and Paul Gore Streets. Eventually, in 1905 the Boylston Branch, named for the Boylston Railroad Station, opened its doors.
Responding to the need for larger space, the B.P.L. built the present iteration, the white limestone library building at 433 Centre Street, which opened in 1932. Designed by Maginnis & Walsh in the Jacobean style, the large arched entrance leads to a large interior space with wood and glass partitions dividing the adult and children’s area.
The ceilings, decorated with plaster moldings, are reputedly inspired by the Rufford Abbey Library in England, a Cistercian abbey that became a country house for aristocrats after the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. On December 12, 1940, the name of the branch officially changed to the Monsignor Arthur T. Connolly Branch, as a tribute to Monsignor Connolly, a long-time member of the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees and pastor of the neighboring Blessed Sacrament Church. Jamaica Plain is south of Mission Hill, southwest of Roxbury, west of Mid Dorchester, northwest of Mattapan, north of Roslindale, northeast of West Roxbury, and east of Brookline.
What is now the Grove Hall Branch Library has changed names several times and migrated from Roxbury to Dorchester. The first iteration of this library branch opened on May 1, 1898 in the rear of Mr. Mowry’s Drug Store at the corner of Warren Street and Haynes Park in Roxbury.
As one would imagine, it was a small affair, equipped with one table, eight chairs, two shelves, and 200 books. It was so well patronized, though, that the Trustees of the B.P.L. voted in 1905 to open a reading room.
In 1919, the building on the corner of Warren and Savin Streets officially became the Warren Street Branch Library. In 1926, this branch moved into its new quarters in the New Roxbury Memorial High School and thus became the Memorial Branch Library.
The fourth iteration opened in December of 1970 as the Grove Hall Branch, located at the corner of Warren and Crawford Streets. On April 4, 2009 the new Grove Hall Branch Library opened at 41 Geneva Avenue in the Dorchester neighborhood.
Located in the newly-renovated Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Schwartz/Silver Architects designed the new library. It features a designated teen room and teen librarian, in keeping with its unique configuration, adjacent to the high school. This was a few years before the Chicago Public Building Commission (P.B.C.) built the Back of the Yards Branch of the Chicago Public Library and the Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School side-by-side.
Dorchester is the southeastern-most neighborhood of Boston. Its southern and eastern boundaries are defined by the Neponset River. It is south of Mid Dorchester and northeast of Mattapan.
Built in 1931 at 419 Faneuil Street in the Brighton neighborhood to replace a temporary location on Brooks Street, the Faneuil Branch is one of the few buildings in Brighton designed in the Art Deco style. The interior remains almost exactly as it was in 1931 with most Art Deco details and decorations intact.
Isidor Richmond and Carney Goldberg, Architects and Engineers, designed the Egleston Square Branch at 2044 Columbus Avenue in the Roxbury neighborhood, near the border with the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. It opened on July 8, 1953. The Friends of the Egleston Square Branch have plans for beautification of the backyard that includes landscaping, sculptures, and a sitting wall. Roxbury is south of South End, southwest of South Boston, west of Mid Dorchester, north of Mattapan, and east of Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain.
In 1969, the Fields Corner Branch Library opened at 1520 Dorchester Avenue in the Dorchester neighborhood. It is the successor to the old Dorchester Branch, which was also located in the Fields Corner historic district.
The Dudley Branch Library opened at 65 Warren Street in the Roxbury neighborhood, in April of 1978. It replaced both the Mount Pleasant Branch and the privately endowed Fellowes Athenaeum.
 Mid Dorchester is north of Dorchester. It includes the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston), the campus of which is on Columbia Point, which real estate developers rebranded Harbor Point, the tip of a peninsula that juts out into Dorchester Bay. The neighborhood is southwest of South Boston.