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Donation Helps Woburn Public Library Move Closer to Expanded Building

Stephen J. and Helen Griffin. Photo credit: Woburn Public Library Foundation.
Stephen J. and Helen Griffin. Photo credit: Woburn Public Library Foundation.

The Woburn Public Library moved a step closer to potentially renovating and expanding the library.

The Woburn Public Library Foundation announced that former Woburn residents Luke Griffin and his mother, Helen Griffin, gave a $100,000 gift to the campaign in the memory of the late Stephen J. Griffin. The library will use Stephen J. Griffin’s name for the south reading room in the Richardson building in the new library.

The gift is the first “for the purpose of naming a space within a new building,” said Larry Rideout, president of the foundation.

Luke Griffin, whose family moved to Winchester when he was 7, said he “never really left Woburn” and his father's “commitment to the city” inspired them to make the donation. 

“The reading room is so appropriate,” said Griffin, “because that’s where my dad spent so much of his time.”

Stephen J. Griffin was born and raised in the South End of Woburn and graduated from Woburn High in 1934. Without the money to attend college, the library became his university, recalled his son.

Stephen J. Griffin went on to a career at Gillette and ultimately became president and vice chairman of the board for several years.

“My mother’s father was an immigrant from Sweden who walked to the library to read the newspaper as a way to learn English,” his son said. “My father’s father died when my dad was quite young, and his grandfather encouraged him to walk up to the library from the South End, the neighborhood known as ‘Mount Misery,’ where some members of the Griffin family had lived since the 1850s, to explore the world of books.”

“It’s a pleasure to serve on the library foundation board,” said Luke Griffin, who has volunteered with the foundation since its launch a year ago. “The Woburn Public Library is a treasure and gives the city a sense of history and character. I have fond memories of my father talking about what a wonderful building it is. My mother and I are happy to be able to make this gift in his memory.”

The Woburn Public Library Foundation continues to raise funds for renovation and expansion of the library. For more information and to see images of the planned work, go to www.thewplfoundation.org.

A list of spaces available for naming may be obtained by contacting the Director of Development at 781-281-2121 or by email at woburnpubliclibraryfoundation@gmail.com.

Dale Johnson April 10, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Please no big ugly glass building. can we please get something that fits Woburn?
dan April 10, 2014 at 09:58 PM
The Library is quietly supporting the money grabbers: Although the voters of Woburn voted down The Community Preservation Act (CPA) by a 2 to 1 vote. A group of Library supporters who want a slush fund, also known as the Community Preservation Act, to side step elected officials and get the 10 million dollars, in addition to the money provided by the city and the state, needed to build the big ugly glass library because the CPA unelected, unaccountable board composed of special interest groups will have the authority to borrow the 10 million dollars and put the city further into depth. Let the earlier vote for the CPA stand and build a Library with the funds presently allowed by the city and state.
IQ April 11, 2014 at 09:37 AM
We should be investing money into projects like these. I like the new design. It's a great blend of traditional building and modern design. I have no problem with the proposed design. Dale, what do you propose? Do you know how expensive it is to erect a building from stone? Also, what "fits" Woburn? The center is half a dump and anything new is better than the dilapidated crap over there. There's nothing wrong with showing off a brand new modern library addition. Dan, what's wrong with fundraising? If the board can get money from the city, state, possibly Fed and from private donors, what's the problem? More money is a good thing if you want a quality renovation and expansion.
Dale Johnson April 11, 2014 at 07:50 PM
simple I want a building that when built looks good, does its job, is easy to maintain and lasts 100 years. The library does this now. sure its outgrown and that's a good thing, it worked! the next one should be thought about the same way. A building glass does not fit anything in Woburn, it has a lifespan of less then 40 years and is expensive to maintain. don't believe me look at other places that have done it. a good percentage wish they didn't. I don't want a library for myself I want it for 100 years from now like the people who built the library thought. anything else is just a waste of money and people trying to get what they want without any thought to the future. but then again that's very American these days.

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