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Goodnow Family Members Pledge to Support the Renovation of the Goodnow Library’s Historical Room

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

An exciting and "full circle" aspect...

The Board of Directors of the Goodnow Library Foundation (GLF) is delighted to announce its partnership with the Goodnow Family to kick off the GLF’s campaign to renovate the Goodnow Library’s Historical Room. Members of the Goodnow Family – descendants from the Edmund Goodnow branch who reside in the Midwest (MI, IL, and OH) and on the East Coast (SC, NY, and MA) – have generously set a goal to raise $25,000 of the $50,000 that the GLF has pledged to raise in order to complete the transformational project. The GLF’s commitment is supplemental to $150,000 that was approved at Town Meeting in September 2020 from the Historic Resources category of the Community Preservation Fund.

The renovation, set to begin this summer, is the GLF’s top funding priority. It is the final phase of the GLF’s ambitious “Reimagining the Second Floor” project that includes the building of the Sara Sherman NOW Lab (makerspace), the modernization of the Teen Area, and the refurbishment of the Historical Octagon. The Historical Room has remained closed to the public in order to protect the Library’s impressive local history collection that includes many items from the Goodnow family.

The Goodnow family history provides an exciting and “full circle” aspect to this funding opportunity. On the 11th of April, 1638, three Goodnow brothers – John, Edmund, and Thomas – and their sister Ursula sailed from England to the United States on the ship “The Confidence,” a 200-ton boat. They were among the first families to found the Sudbury Plantation. This settlement established the Goodnow family’s foothold in the United States.

In 1861, a later John Goodnow bequeathed $20,000 to the town of Sudbury for “purchasing and keeping in order a Public Library for the benefit of the inhabitants of [Sudbury].” He also gave three acres of land and $2,500 to erect the building. Construction started in 1862, and the Goodnow Library opened on April 4, 1863. It was one of Massachusetts’ first free public libraries. With 2,300 volumes in circulation and one librarian (Samuel Puffer), the new library welcomed people of all ages, offering resources that went well beyond books. The Goodnow Library was also a space to socialize, just as it is today.

The Library was designed as an octagonal building with windows on all sides and a cupola on top. Additions were added in 1885, 1895, 1971, and finally the largest in 1999. Throughout the Library’s changes, the original 19th century building was carefully preserved and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The use of the Library has grown significantly as an increasing number of freelancers, remote employees, and students use Goodnow for work, study, and building connections in the community. As the Library has become more active, patrons and staff have expressed the need for a quiet space. The Historical Room renovation will allow the room to open as a dedicated quiet area. Work will include securing and customizing storage for the Library’s unique documents, maps, and artifacts and rehabilitating the existing shelving for the local history book collection, as well as providing more display opportunities. Furnishings will include four long tables with task lights and outlets and additional armchairs for reading.

According to Director of Development Holly Bernene, “Having such a generous commitment from the Goodnow family themselves is so meaningful to our local community. This anchor pledge reinforces the legacy of the Goodnow family in Sudbury and their continued interest in the town’s history. We are deeply grateful for their work on behalf of the Library.”

If you would like to learn more about supporting this project, please visit the Foundation’s website at


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