The James Library & Center for the Arts Kicks Off Arts for Everyone Capital Campaign – The James Library & Center for the Arts of Norwell announces the kick off to a fundraising capital campaign Arts for Everyone. Organizers strive to raise $430,000 to support the addition of a three-floor elevator as well as other important modifications to the historic 1874 Victorian building. The completion of these modifications will bring the facility into full compliance with Massachusetts accessibility laws, allowing The James to fulfill its mission of inspiring creativity, learning and an appreciation for the arts through music, visual and literary programs, in a historic and welcoming space for the community.

In 2014, 22 Board members, Charitable Trustees, staff and community members gathered for a strategic planning project to map out the future of The James, discuss what was working and review opportunities for improvement.  Four objectives emerged, with accessibility rising to the top of the list. “It was clear to us that in order to fully realize our mission, The James needed to address the lack of access that some of our community members were experiencing,” said Wendy Bawabe, Chair of The James’ Board of Directors. Plans began in earnest in 2015.  With the help of Jim Kelliher of Axiom Architects, The James was given approval to make changes to the building in 2016 by the Architectural Access Board, the Massachusetts state agency that oversees accessibility compliance. “For us, this capital campaign is about removing barriers. It’s about increasing access for those with physical differences as well as increasing hours and arts programming for those who may have time or financial restraints,” Bawabe said.

The James offers a full range of programming, from concerts and art exhibitions, to story slams and literary discussions, to historic figure portrayals and children’s art classes.  Admission to programs range from free to $35 for special events. Last year, with the help of a grant from the Cordelia Family Foundation, The James launched a brand education new series, Mondays at The James, in addition to their regular schedule of events. These Monday-night programs are informational, completely free and cover diverse topics including meditation, mountain climbing, music, acupuncture, Hamilton, Civil War veterans of Norwell, poetry and more. Additionally, The James serves as a lending library, meeting space for book clubs and community organizations, and offers music and voice lessons to nearly 100 children and adults.

Executive Director Megan Ward shares, “The James is here for the community. Our goal is to engage people, to inspire people, to offer education and culture to the South Shore. Arts for Everyone will allow us to engage and inspire the entire community — no matter their physical or financial ability. We want everyone to be able to attend a concert or literary discussion; everyone to enjoy the latest art exhibit.”

A Cordelia Family Foundation cornerstone gift laid the foundation for the Arts for Everyone campaign.  The Bloomwhistle Charitable Fund has set forth a match challenge for individual donors, allowing individual donations to be matched up to $200,000. The James is accepting donations to the Arts for Everyone capital campaign and will be hosting coffee hours and informational gatherings at locations across the South Shore over the coming year. Construction is planned to take place in four phases, with the first phase addition of an accessible side entrance and two handicapped parking spaces, anticipated to begin this fall.

For more information about this project or if you wish to donate, please visit or call (781) 659-7100.  For more information about The James Library’s programs and events, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About The James Library & Center for the Arts

Since 1874, The James Library has served the South Shore community as a warm gathering place. Housed in a landmark Victorian in historical Norwell Center, The James is dedicated to serving the community by providing high-quality programs, resources and materials through a concert hall, art gallery and the operation of a free lending library. As an independent, non-profit arts center we foster a mission for the creation, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts for residents of all ages on the South Shore, while preserving the historic character of our home. The James Library is located at 24 West Street, Norwell and is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 5 pm and on Saturday from 10 to 1 pm. For more information, please call 781-659-7100, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Top Right and Bottom Left:  The James Library as it appears to date, courtesy photos.

Middle Right:  The Bookworms, a book club celebrating 20 years gathering at The James this winter, currently includes members Peg Carpenter (Norwell), Helen Keeler (Duxbury), Shirley
Bunnell (Norwell), Sherry Hubbart (Hingham), Vivian Perry (Pembroke), Carolyn Housman (Marshfield), Joan Kenworthy (Rockland), Joanne Tavares (Pembroke), Jackie or Jacqueline Jordan (Norwell), Jody Vermette (Norwell), and Davida Madden (Norwell). Members not
present: Carol Neely (Norwell), Winnie Lou Rounds (Scituate) and Margaret Scarry (Duxbury).

Bottom Right:  A front elevation of the currently planned structural modifications as prepared by Axiom Architects.