Providence Public Library distributed books to Washington Park residents from a book truck in the early 1920s and later opened a sub-branch in Washington Park that occupied cramped quarters in the basement of Broad Street Elementary School, where it would remaind for the next 30 years.
Book mobile at Washington Park Playground, 1923.
Although a branch building in Washington Park had been part of PPL's original 1927 master plan, conceived in 1927, this branch building, like the one in Mount Pleasant, was long in coming. The Washington Park community pressured PPL to find a home for a full library branch for the neighborhood. Because the fire company located at Broad and Jillian Streets would be moving to a new station on Allens Avenue in the fall of 1949, the City of Providence promised to donate the building to PPL for use as a library branch. Washington Park residents formed a committee to organize a drive to raise $15,000 to renovate the station, to accommodate the branch library on the first floor and community hall (which was never completed) on the second floor. As a result of this activity, the City of Providence donated the former Hose 18 Fire Station to PPL for use as the library in 1950, and the library was eventually restored and remodeled in time to open in December of 1956.
In January of 2006, PPL trustees abruptly voted to "close the branch indefinitely after building contractors revealed that its 'structural integrity may be further compromised [during the current winter] due to long-term water damage.' After a hurried search for a new location for the branch, minimal library services were established in a former Benny's store, a building hardly in better shape than the now-shuttered library building.
Community outcry prompted city officials to spend $225,000 of city funds in renovating the building over the summer. The updates included "installing a new roof, repointing exterior brickwork, upgrading electrical systems and a restroom, installing a new entrance, fire-alarm system and carpeting and applying a fresh coat of paint for interior walls. The library reopened in March of 2009 after the building's ownership had reverted to the City, with PPL providing the library services.