Library Support History

Public and private support of Cohasset’s Library is not a new idea.

Cohasset citizens, for a subscription fee of 25 cents, could become stockholders in one of two small libraries in private homes. While considered private libraries, the fee was consciously set low enough that all might find these 17 volumes accessible.

Cohasset Free Public Library was funded, combining the existing private collections and $300 in public money to house the library in Town Hall.

The Paul Pratt Memorial Library was built with private funds from the Paul Pratt family, the gift of the site from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel T. Snow, and payment for blasting the ledge from Charles A. Welch. The Town’s book collection of 7,500 volumes moved to this beautiful new library. Agreement was reached between the Town and the Boards of Directors of the Paul Pratt Memorial Library to operate the library with Town funds.

An addition was funded by the remainder of the endowment from the original Pratt gift and by other private gifts raised for this purpose.

The Directors of the Paul Pratt Memorial Library gave the building and its contents to the Town of Cohasset and dissolved their corporation. The Town agreed to spend $200,000 to increase space by 40% to provide adequately for 45,000 books, 200 periodicals, audiovisual materials, a record collection and increased space for children and seating.

Town Meeting authorized $2.9 million for a new library in the old Joseph Osgood School, provided the Trustees raised $700,000, the Town sold the 1903 building and Cohasset received a Massachusetts Library Construction Grant.

The new $4.4 million Paul Pratt Memorial Library opened with more than one-third of it paid for by generous private gifts.