Sarah Shedd, the Library’s namesake, was born in Washington on April 29th, 1813. She was well-educated and had a love of nature which she expressed throughout her life using prose and poetry. Sarah’s father died when she was 15, placing a heavy burden on her to help support her family. She soon found work to help support her family in a textile mill in Lowell. She spent most summers teaching in Washington.
Following her mother’s death in 1860, Sarah began to save her money to found a public library for her hometown. Sarah died in 1867, after gifting her entire $2500 estate for this purpose. The Town of Washington voted to accept the bequest; and named the library the Shedd Free Library. For many years, Washington’s Library consisted of unused rooms in several homes located near Washington’s center.
In 1881, S.S. Woodcock, eminent Boston architects, were commissioned to design the high Victorian-style building which was donated by Luman Jefts. Mr. Jefts grew up in Washington prior to becoming a prominent manufacturer. The Library was built on a generous donation of land in Washington Center and opened in December, 1881.