The building which know houses the Rowayton Community Center in Norwalk was originally built in 1912 as the carriage house and stables for the Rock Ledge estate. The estate’s original mansion, built on the other side of Highland Street in 1911, burned down and was rebuilt in 1913. The carriage house and U-shaped stables wings are constructed with a rough stone first floor and a half-timbered upper story with jerkinhead roofs in the Tudor Revival style.
The Community Center also houses the Rowayton Library. After an brief early attempt to establish a library in Rowayton in 1867, locals established what would become today’s Rowayton Library in 1903. Originally located in the former Craw Store, Craw Hall, at 101 Rowayton Avenue, the library moved into the former home of the Rowayton Fire Department in 1926 and finally into the former stables in the 1960s.
Frederick Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School in Washington, was also the founder, in 1852, of the Washington Library Association, of which he became president in 1855. In the 1880s the Library Association evolved into the Washington Reading Room & Circulating Library Association, which opened a reading room in 1891. E.H. Van Ingen pledged land and money toward erecting a permanent library building in 1902 and the completed building was dedicated in 1908. It was designed by noted architect Ehrick K.Rossiter, who had become a summer resident of Washington. The interior has ceiling murals by Washington resident H. Siddons Mowbray and bronze busts by English sculptor A. Bertram Pegram. The local DAR branch had opened a historical room in a nearby house in 1899. This collection was turned over to the library in 1907. Originally located in the library’s basement, the museum later collection moved to the adjacent house, bequeathed to the library by June S. Willis in 1965. A new 7,500 square foot addition, five times the size of the original library, was completed in 1994. The plans were drawn by King & Tuthill.
The William Ross Public Library, built in 1911 at 57 Chaplin Street, is the original library building in the town of Chaplin. The library has since moved to the building at 130 Chaplin Street, a former elementary school built in 1948 and renovated for the library in 2000. The history of the library is described by librarian Ruth Eveline Snow in “The William Ross Public Library, Chaplin” in A Modern History of Windham County, Vol. I (1920):
About two years before the regular organization, a circulating library was kept first in the old Davenport House by Nettie E. Snow. At a town meeting October 7, 1901, the town gave a vote of thanks to Mr. Seth Moseley of New Haven for his gift of $100 toward the establishment of a free library. At the same meeting it was voted that the town should give $200, and “should spend annually for maintenance and increase $25.”
[. . .] The library has at present $50 a year from the town, $25 for heating, lighting, magazines, etc., and $25 for the librarian’s salary; $50 a year, interest on the William Ross Trust Fund. The library is under the state law and the state gives $100 worth of books each year.
The library was kept in different places. It had no regular library building. At the death of Mr. William Ross, a public-spirited citizen, it was found that his will provided money for a suitable library building. His widow added more money to the fund, so that a $6,500 brick building was erected. The dedication of the building was Saturday, November 18, 1911.
[. . .] The new building was built by George Eastman Snow. A guest book is kept on one of the tables and now shows the names of many visitors from many different states.
The library now numbers about two thousand volumes. Collections of books are sent each term, to each of the three schools in the town. The children use the library to a great extent, and it is very popular with the adults also.
The old South Britain Library, 576 South Britain Road, was the first library building erected in the Town of Southbury. It was built in 1904 by Axel Wilson for $746 on land donated by the Mitchell family. The library was operated by the private, non-profit South Britain Library Association. In 1969 a new town library building was erected on on Main Street, taking over from the old South Britain Library. The current Southbury Public Library is located at 100 Poverty Road in a building completed in 2006. Since 1983 the Southbury Historic Building Commission has maintained the old South Britain Library building. It now houses Southbury’s Library of Local History and Genealogy, managed by the Southbury Historical Society.
The small brick structure at 6 Main Street South in Woodbury was built in 1888 on land sold to the town by Charles Hurd with the stipulation that the town would retain use of it or ownership would revert to his heirs. The building served as the Town Clerk’s office from 1888 until 1952. It was renovated in 1986 by the Old Woodbury Historical Society, which uses it as a library and archive of old town records.
A subscription library was organized in West Hartford in the eighteenth century by members of the Congregational Church. This became officially the West Hartford Public Library with town funding in 1897. The library remained at the church until 1917, when the first Noah Webster Memorial Library building was dedicated at 7 North Main Street. The building was also used for meetings by local clubs and organizations as well as the Town Council. This first library was soon outgrown and a new building on South Main Street was dedicated in 1938. Since then the old library has had various tenants, most recently Fringe Hair Works of West Hartford.
The town of Suffield’s first library building was erected in 1899 at 119 High Street on land where the Old South building on the Connecticut Literary Institute (now Suffield Academy) campus once stood. Designed by Daniel Burnham, the library was built using funds provided by Suffield native Sidney A. Kent, as described in Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut, October 12, 13 and 14, 1920 (1921):
In 1897 Mr. Sidney A. Kent, a native of Suffield and for many years a prominent and successful business man in Chicago, returned to Suffield and, desirous of erecting a memorial to his parents whose ancestors were prominent in the early history of the town, offered to erect a library building costing not less than $35,000, if the town would provide a suitable site. The site of the old South building was secured from the Connecticut Literary Institution and was a part of the grant or allotment of land made in 1678 to Samuel Kent, the first of his ancestors to come to Suffield. Upon this he erected the beautiful Kent Memorial building and in addition furnished the library with 6872 carefully selected volumes and thirty-two magazines and periodicals. That the library might be properly provided for in addition to town appropriations, Mr. Kent created an endowment of $25,000, one-half of the income of which should go annually to the maintenance of the library, and the other half added to the principal for a period of twenty years, after which the whole income of the increased fund should become available. The building was dedicated November 1, 1899 at which time Mr. Kent presented to the town the building, books, certificate of trust fund and a check for $5000 to cover the cost of site. On September 1, 1901 the library had 10,759 volumes in its stacks and 10,773 naa been drawn by the public during the year. There are now over twenty thousand volumes and the number of books drawn annually by the public has steadily increased. The town annually appropriates $1200 and the income from the Kent fund is about $1400.