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Winn Memorial Library

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1876–1879, Henry Hobson Richardson. 45 Pleasant St.
  • Winn Memorial Library (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Jonathan Bowers Winn was one of several local residents who amassed a fortune in the local leather tanning industry. This money, bequeathed by Winn's son to the community, funded Woburn's celebrated public library building, the first of five libraries in Boston suburbs designed by H. H. Richardson. With its vibrant polychromy of brown and cream sandstone and its picturesque massing, Richardson's vigorous interpretation of the Romanesque Revival, like that of his Trinity Church, Boston (BB37), distinguished the Winn Memorial Library in its day. The sculptural ornamentation by Welsh immigrant John Evans was exceptional for American architecture of the time in both its quantity and quality. Initially the library featured a roof of red clay tile that was replaced by red slate in 1914, the only significant change to the library's exterior. Richardson planned the interior as a sequence of discrete spaces. He designed a natural history museum in the octagon and a picture gallery beyond the entry vestibule, in addition to the reading room and the book alcoves (a conservative choice, as stack shelving was being promoted for libraries at this time).

Writing Credits

Maureen Meister


What's Nearby


Maureen Meister, "Winn Memorial Library", [Woburn, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 418-419.

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