Goodwin Memorial Library, Hadley (Hampshire County). Memorial plaques are located on the second floor.

Location: Plaques in Goodwin Memorial Library, 50 Middle Street, Hadley
Coordinates: 42°20’33.0″N 72°35’19.0″W
Date dedicated: Plaques installed in 1920
Architect/design/manufacturer: Manufacturer of plaques unknown (Guy Kirkham of Springfield was the architect of the library)

The Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley, built in 1903, was made possible by a $4,000 gift from John Dwight of New York. The amount was matched by popular support from the town’s residents. The town had at first explored a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, which funded so many libraries across the nation, but, according the Springfield Republican, found Carnegie’s terms “too severe.” So they instead approached New York merchant and soda company magnate John Dwight who owned the Summit House hotel on nearby Mt. Holyoke and had friends in Hadley. Dwight generously supported the project but declined to have the building named after him and instead suggested it be named after Elder William Goodwin, one of the original settlers of the town.[1]

The Civil War panel of the memorial plaques

Extensive newspaper accounts of the library dedication do not mention a soldiers’ memorial aspect to the library.[2] While the library building itself was not originally a war memorial, plans were soon discussed to include a soldiers’ memorial within the building. In 1909, Orville W. Prouty, chairman of the Board of Selectmen and commander of the local Grand Army of the Republic post wrote that it was “hoped that, during the present year, while the town celebrates its two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of settlement, tablets bearing the names of soldiers for the Union may be erected” in the assembly hall on the second floor.[3] This was accomplished in 1920 when the town reconfigured the southern facade, entryway, windows, as well as the stairway to the second floor hall. Part of this project involved the installation on the second floor of plaques listing the town’s soldiers in the Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. Reflecting this new memorial purpose, lettering was added to the south façade reading, “Soldiers Memorial, 1775, 1861, 1917.”

Hadley, therefore, like many other towns in New England and beyond, created a multi-purpose building with a library room on the first floor and a memorial hall on the second floor for public assemblies. This was a common arrangement particularly around the turn of the century as numerous Massachusetts towns were building their first library structures. A memorial aspect lent itself well to these quiet, introspective spaces housed in elegant brick structures.

According to the large, painted plaque which still adorns the second floor of the old library, 206 men from Hadley served in the Civil War. 28 of them died in service. The most famous of Hadley’s native sons to serve was Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker who grew up in Hadley and left the town to attend West Point and pursue a military career. Hooker was a capable division and corps commander during the war but unfortunately is probably best known for his defeat during the Battle of Chancellorsville while serving as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

In 1895, the III Army Corps held a large reunion in Hadley. The location was chosen to honor General Hooker whose original command was the 2nd Division of that Corps. The reunion spurred broader interest in honoring the general, eventually resulting in the equestrian statue of Hooker placed in front of the State House in 1903.   

[1] “Goodwin Memorial Library,” Springfield Republican, July 13, 1902, 6.

[2] “Hadley Dedication Exercises,” Springfield Republican, August 20, 1903, 12.

[3] Prouty quoted in Alfred S. Roe, Monuments, tablets and other memorials erected in Massachusetts to commemorate the service of her sons in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865, (Boston: Wright and Potter Printers, 1910), 58.

2 thoughts on “Hadley

  1. Hi Patrick,
    I look always look forward to your intelligent descriptions of Civil War memorials across Massachusetts. I have contacted you before about the Chatham memorial, and as a lucky summer visitor (from Charlotte, NC) to Cape Cod I am always moved by the marble obelisk in the heart of town, The inscriptions of the fallen include specifics about where and when and how they fell, eg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, “Coal Harbor”, “Outside Petersburg.” The death tool amounted so suddenly and so far from home. Are you aware of any other monuments that are quite so specific about where and when the soldiers fell? Thank you.

    Richard Mattson

    1. Hello Richard. Thank you and sorry for a late reply. Indicating the date and location of death of each soldier on Massachusetts monuments is fairly rare but not extremely so. I would have to go through my photos and articles to determine a comprehensive list, but a quick look shows that both Arlington and Andover did this. Both those towns had long rosters of fallen, so it must have been quite a process to assemble that information and verify it. This would explain why it’s rather rare.

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