History of Giving

Woburn’s library history began over 200 years ago in 1789. On April 13 of that year, just 17 days before George Washington was inaugurated as the country’s first President, thirty-three gentlemen and ladies signed a document in which they agreed to purchase shares in what would be known as the Social Library.

In 1854, Jonathan Bowers Winn offered his salary of $300.00, which he had received as a delegate to the Convention to revise the State Constitution, to fund a public library if the Town would give a matching sum. The offer was accepted and in 1856 the first public library opened in a room in the Municipal Building.

In 1865, two events of note occurred: the library was moved into rooms in the old Wade Block and Bowen Buckman, a well-known figure in the community, left the Library its first trust fund, the sum of $500.00.

In 1873, Timothy Winn, brother of J.B. Winn, died and also left the library a bequest, this amounting to $3,000.00. Scarcely two weeks later, J.B. Winn also died and bequeathed to the library $2,500.00 while leaving the bulk of his considerable estate to his only surviving child, Charles Bowers Winn.

Charles Bowers Winn (1838-1875), never in very good health, died within two years of his father. Included in his will was the following bequest to the Town of Woburn: “I give and bequest to the town of Woburn, in trust, the sum of one hundred and forty thousand dollars, to be used and disposed of for the purpose and in the interest of a Public Library …”

In 1987 John E. Frizzell bequeathed $1.9 million to the Woburn Public Library. Frizzell was born in Woburn and operated a building materials business.  His gift helped preserve the building at a time when maintenance funds were insufficient to keep up with the needs.

The Woburn Public Library Foundation was established in 2013.

In 2014 Foundation Director Luke Griffin, with his mother Helen, donated $100,000 in memory of his late father, Stephen J. Griffin.  Stephen was an enthusiastic patron and supporter of the library.  This gift was one of the first named space gifts and a section of the reading room will bear Griffin’s name.

In the fall of 2015 the Foundation was awarded a $500,000 Massachusetts Cultural Council grant.  The grant will support the redesign and renovation of the library’s art museum and collection, and local history, and artifacts spaces which will increase public access to these collections.

In the summer of 2015 the Colburn, Pavia Children’s Fund endowment was established by the family of Daniel A. Pavia.  The family wished to honor their father’s love of reading and passion for children’s books by providing financial support for the programs of the Children’s Library. Since then, many friends and fans of the Woburn Public Library have stepped forward to leave a legacy by naming specific areas in the library: 

  • The O. Stanley Gillespie Family
  • The O’Reilly Family in Memory of Helen T. O’Reilly
  • John Kelley and Michelle Gillespie in Memory of Cliff Wing
  • Daniel J. and Patricia A. Brady, Jr.
  • The Jones Family
  • Dr. and Mrs. Kevin P. Mooney in Memory of Ann M. Mooney
  • Robert and Karen Maguire
  • Winchester Savings Bank
  • The Seitz Family
  • The Keleher, O’Doherty, Mozaffar Family
  • Winchester Cooperative Bank
  • Mayor Robert and Elaine Dever Family
  • The Griffin Family in Memory of Stephen J. Griffin
  • Woburn Middlesex Lions Club
  • Stephen Kelley in Memory of Walter and Helen Kelley
  • The Bill
  • Collins Foundation
  • Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home

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