Until 1887, Cambridge
, while distinguished in many ways, had not been specially favored by any large gifts from her citizens for public purposes.
She had been conspicuous for her educational institutions, for her many and varied industries, for her sturdy citizenship, and especially for the part she had taken in the struggle for the independence of our country, and later for union and liberty.
Intelligence, patriotism, and many other virtues were characteristic of her people, but their wealth was not great, and it had not been devoted to a large extent to distinctly public objects.
The year 1887 marked a new epoch in her history.
Then began a period of larger things, of grander municipal life, of greater public spirit in works of philanthropy and benevolence, and of devotion to the charities that ‘soothe and heal and bless.’
The privilege of starting this movement was given to one of her younger sons of ample fortune and of generous impulses.
His early life and associations were with Cambridge
His later years, spent elsewhere, had with deep religious spirit been devoted to good works, which broadened his life out into the lives of others.
With noble generosity and fine public spirit, he gave largely to the communities where he dwelt, and also richly blessed this city of his birth.
For many years Cambridge
had felt the need of a public library that would meet the requirements of the people of a large and growing city.
At a meeting of prominent citizens, a committee of ten was appointed to bring the matter to the attention of the people of Cambridge
, and to solicit their subscriptions.
As mayor and one of this committee, it was my pleasure to make known our wants to one who, although he had not been a citizen of the city during all his life, had always manifested a deep interest in her welfare.
His answer, showing
his generosity and love for his native city, is given in the following letter:—
The tract of land contained nearly 115,000 square feet, and was admirably situated for the purpose.
At a meeting of the city council held June 15, 1887, the following resolutions were adopted:—
Resolved, That the city of Cambridge accepts with profound gratitude the munificent gift of Frederick H. Rindge of land and building for a public library, as stated in his letter of June 14, 1887; that the city accepts it upon the conditions stated in said letter, which it will faithfully and gladly observe as a sacred trust, in accordance with his desire.
Resolved, That in gratefully accepting this gift, the city tenders to Frederick H. Rindge its heartfelt thanks, and desires to express its sense of deep obligation to him, recognizing the Christian faith, generosity, and public spirit that have
prompted him to supply a long-felt want by this gift of great and permanent usefulness.
Messrs. Van Brunt
were selected as architects.
Ground was broken for the library on May 1, 1888, and on June 29, 1889, the keys of the building were transferred to the city government.
The exercises of the dedication were held in the main hall-way of the building, and consisted of music; prayer by Rev. Alexander McKenzie, D. D.
; presentation of deed of gift, by Francis J. Parker
; acceptance of the same by the mayor, Hon. Henry H. Gilmore
; remarks by Hon. S. L. Montague
, president of the board of trustees, Charles W. Eliot
, president of Harvard University, Samuel S. Green
, librarian of the Worcester Public Library
, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
The building is of the Romanesque style of southern France
, with exterior of Dedham
stone, and dark sandstone trimmings.
It has two divisions, one, partially fireproof, devoted to the convenience of the public, with waiting-hall, reading-room, reference library, and memorial and administrative rooms; the other division is for the storage of the books, and is wholly fireproof.
The cost of the building was about $100,000.
A few months after his gift of the library building, and before work upon it had begun, Mr. Rindge
made other gifts to the city of even larger value and of more importance.
They were made by the following letter:—
At a special meeting of the city council, held November 12, 1887, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:—
, that the city of Cambridge
accepts with deep gratitude the munificent gifts of Frederick H. Rindge
, as expressed in his letter of November 3, 1887, to the mayor.
In accepting said gifts it desires to signify to him its profound and lasting appreciation of his great generosity and public spirit.’
Manual Training School.
were selected as architects.
Ground was broken July 12, 1888, and the building was ready for use on the 1st of October following.
The late Harry Ellis
main charge of the erection and equipment of the school, and later was chosen its superintendent.
To his constant, faithful, able service and unselfish devotion to the interests of the school and its pupils was due its great success.
The building is of Romanesque style of architecture, and stands upon a generous lot of land at the corner of Broadway and Irving Street. It consists of a main building 70 by 62 feet, with wings 60 feet square.
A description of the work of the students will be given elsewhere in this volume by Mr. Morse
, its superintendent.
The building and equipment cost about $100,000. The school, since its foundation, has been supported wholly by Mr. Rindge
The city Hall.
The architects of the city hall were Messrs. Longfellow
A suitable site was purchased by the city government, located on Main Street, and extending from Bigelow
Ground was broken February 1, 1889, and the corner-stone was laid, with appropriate ceremonies, on May 15, 1889, by Most Worshipful Henry Endicott
, Grand Master
of the Grand Lodge
of Masons of Massachusetts
On December 9, 1890, the new city hall, finished and furnished, was formally transferred to the city, with exercises simple in character, in accordance with the wish of Mr. Rindge
The building is of quarry-faced stone, and stands well back from the street, with terraces in front.
It is 157 feet long, 92 feet deep on the sides, but has a recessed court 32 by 37 feet at the back.
The front wall is broken by a beautiful tower 27 feet square, which rises 154 feet from its base.
The building is remarkable for its fine proportions and massive dignity.
Its cost was about $225,000. In front and over the handsome entrance is placed the inscription suggested by Mr. Rindge
With characteristic modesty, the city's benefactor insisted, as a condition of his generous gifts, that no memorial to him should be placed in any of these buildings, nor should his name be connected with them.
‘What I am aiming to do,’ he said, ‘is to establish certain didactic public buildings.’
So upon each he wrote the lesson it was to teach.
But his gifts will forever teach another lesson which his modesty would not mention, —the lesson of a noble life and fortune devoted to God and to his fellow-men.