The Forbes Library, also known as “the castle on the hill,” due to its solitary location, opened on October 23, 1894 at 20 West St, Northampton, Massachusetts. Judge Charles Edward Forbes (1795-1881), a desiring a public library for the citizens of Northampton, left in his will a large sum for “purchase of a site and erection of a building for the accommodation of a public library, and for the purchase of books etc. to be placed therein for the use of the inhabitants of the said town of Northampton and their successors forever.”
William C. Brocklesby (1841-1910), who had designed a number of buildings at nearby Smith College, was commissioned to design and build a “fireproof building” to house the new library. Brocklesby designed a Richardsonian Romanesque, three-story stone building with an all steel frame and a stone, slate and copper exterior. The large building could accommodate over 400,000 volumes. The library underwent a complete renovation between 1998 and 2001 and is listed on the Register of Historic Buildings. The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum.