The Town of Franklin is a city in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, US. Franklin is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of” in their official names. As of 2012, the city's population was 33,092. It is home to the country's first library, with its first books donated by Benjamin Franklin and the country's oldest continuously operational one-room school house. It also contains the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese, St. Mary's Catholic church, with some 15,000 members.
Franklin was first settled by Europeans in 1660 and officially incorporated during the American Revolution. The town was formed from the western part of the town of Wrentham on February 16, 1778; its designated name at incorporation was to be Exeter. However, the town's citizens chose to be called Franklin in honor of the statesman Benjamin Franklin, the first municipality in the US to be so named.
It was hoped that Benjamin Franklin would donate a bell for a church steeple in the town, but donated 116 books instead, beginning a debate over who should be allowed access to these books. On November 20, 1790, it was decided that the volumes would be lent to the residents of Franklin for free via its library, which has been in operation since then. The Ray Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1904. In 1990, on the library's bicentennial, its staff published a booklet, "A History of America's First Public Library at Franklin Massachusetts, 1790 ~ 1990" to commemorate America's first public library and book collection.
The city is also home to the birthplace of America's father of public education, Horace Mann. The town is also home to what may be the nation's oldest continuously operational one-room school house (Croydon, New Hampshire's school dates to 1780, but there is debate as to whether it is truly "one room"). The Red Brick School was started in 1792, its building constructed in 1833, and was operational until 2008. St. Mary's Catholic Church, located in central Franklin and built by Matthew Sullivan, is the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese with some 15,000 members.