The Helen Kate Furness Free Library was founded in October 1902 by a group of Nether Providence citizens as the Horace Howard Furness Free Library, named in honor of one of the founders, a famous Shakespearean scholar whose estate, Lindenshade, was located in what is now Furness Park. In the early years, the library was housed in a 12 foot square room of the newly built Wallingford elementary school. Dr. Furness' died in 1912. In his will, he bequeathed $5,000 to the library on the condition that the Library's name be changed to The Helen Kate Furness Free Library to honor Dr. Furness' wife who was also a Shakespearean scholar. In today's dollars, Dr. Furness' bequest would be worth about $87,000.
A second addition, the Chadwick Wing, was added in 1974 with a gift of $50,000 from the estate of Judge E. Wallace Chadwick of Rose Valley, who died in 1969. A $10,000 bequest from the estate of Mr. Chadwick's wife, Alice Chadwick, provided additional funding to furnish the wing. Today the value of those two gifts would be about $210,000.Since 1974, usage of the library has increased dramatically, placing a strain on the current facilities and preventing the library from offering the environment and the services that our patrons want and need. The quality of life we enjoy in our community has always attracted families who value education and who want a strong Library for their children, grandchildren, and themselves. Consequently, an addition to the Library was completed in 2006 in order to meet the needs of the community.