MPL’s Hidden Gem: Gallery of Local History

Thomas Tierney also contributed to this article

Many people have heard of the Malden Public Library (MPL) located across the street from Malden High School and in the center of Malden, but it is less known that it has its own museum. The MPL museum features a variety of artistic items that showcase Malden's historical past and demonstrate how the Malden Public Library operated in the 1800s. It even displays historical artifacts from the Converse family, who started the globally recognized “Converse” shoe company here in Malden.

Old Converse shoe box and canvas of the Converse family. -THOMAS TIERNEY

Ryan Reed, a local history librarian at the Malden Public Library, shared some information regarding the library’s history. “It was built in the 1880s, and it was built as a memorial to Frank Converse. So, his father, Mr. Converse, was sort of the first Mayor of Malden, and he owned a shoe factory here, a very rich man. And Malden didn't have a library at the time, so he had this built.” 

Old pair of Converse shoes. -THOMAS TIERNEY

The tale of the creation of this museum is not all pleasant, however. Reed commented that

“It was in memorial of his son, who was shot in the first fatal bank robbery in the United States, which happened right down here in Pleasant Street.” “We actually have the clock that was standing right behind him when he was killed. So it's sort of the only witness to the crime. So it's sort of that history. And then, you know, the newer part of the library was built in the nineties. So up until then, from the 1800s until about 1995,” Reed explained. 

The Malden Public Library still contains some features that were present back when the library first opened. “It's very ornate. If you look really closely, you can see all the different types of carvings and things like that. These [light bulbs] used to all be gas, and when they redid them they did them as exact replicas,” Reed explained. 

The artwork that is presented in the Malden Public Library consists of old factories of Converse when it was in the works and it shows how simple things were back then and how they have changed from a small shoe factory to a universal industry of shoes that millions across the world own and wear daily.

Picture of old Converse factory. -THOMAS TIERNEY

The Local History hours at the MPL are available for everyone and you can check to see the times on the Malden Public Library website, For those who have known about this museum or if this is their first time finding out, it's highly recommended to check it out! Visitors might learn a thing or two about Malden’s history!

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