A Short History of Mt. Pleasant Library

THE MT. PLEASANT LIBRARY       (taken from the PCL website)

In the early twentieth century, the Mount Pleasant area of the city was rapidly being developed into a neighborhood of predominately middle-class single-family homes. In 1906, the Sprague House Association opened a library in a wooden building owned by the Association. Eight years later, the Sprague House Association “combined with the Federal Hill House Association and gave the building to the Providence Public Library.” 1 For the next thirty-five years PPL would continue to use this building to provide library services to local residents in Mount Pleasant.

Sprague House

According to PPL’s branch library building program, a new building for the citizens of Mount Pleasant was slated for construction by the early 1940s. However, work on the building was delayed until after the Great Depression and World War Two. In 1940,

a citizen of another section of Providence, who desires to remain anonymous, gave the Trustees of the Providence Public Library $10,000 in War Savings Bonds for the purpose of helping to replace the present inadequate library on Armington Avenue with a modern building. It was then estimated that the new branch, with furniture, would cost about $50,000. The benefactor offered to make an additional gift of $15,000, if the balance of the sum required were raised within five years. 2

Given the slow progress on fund-raising due to the war, the benefactor extended the deadline by another five years, but eventually “other gifts from individuals and corporations, together with appropriations from library reserves PPL “reserves” were those allocated for “Central Library repairs and improvements.” 3, provided a total of $100,000″ which was spent on the building’s construction and furnishings. The last $6,000 of the sum was raised by a “house-to-house canvass” of Elmhurst residents. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Harkness and Geddes and built by Lawrence O. Ahlborg. It opened on June 28, 1949. 4

Nearly twenty years later PPL added an annex to the building which more than doubled the size of the library. The $200,000 cost of the addition was paid by city and state grants, with the city providing half the funds and the rest shared by the state and federal governments. 5

1. “A New Branch Library for Mount Pleasant,” Reader’s Guide to Books, Vol. 11, No. 5 (May 1944): 2.

2. See above.

3. “The Mt. Pleasant Branch: Its Past and Present,” A Reader’s Guide to Books, Vol. 16, No. 7 (July 1949): 4.

4. “New Mt. Pleasant Library Formally Opened to Public,” Providence Journal (June 29, 1949): 15.

5. “Ground Broken for Library,” Providence Journal (July 14, 1967): 30, and “Mount Pleasant Library Addition Dedicated,” Providence Journal (March 26, 1968): 34.



The Mount Pleasant Library is at the center of its community. It is within walking distance of two elementary schools, Mount PleasantHigh School, and La Salle Academy. The library’s busiest time is between 3 and 6 p.m. when children come to do homework and adults stop by after work. As there are no boys and girls clubs or recreation centers in the neighborhood, the library is where young people come to congregate. A combination of young and old, traditional families, single family households, teachers, professionals and non-professionals alike come to the Mount Pleasant Library to use the 20 computers, check out books, magazines, DVD’s, CDs, VHS, and audio books.