At the head of the Town Green in Ellington is the Hall Memorial Library, which first opened in 1903. The building was designed by architect Wilson Potter of New York, who specialized in schools and libraries and also designed the Bristol Public Library. The library was the gift of Francis Hall, who had left Ellington for Elmira, NY, in honor of his father, Judge John Hall, and his brother, Edward Hall, who had both headed renowned schools in Ellington. A bookseller, Francis Hall went to Japan in 1859 to collect material for a book and to serve as correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. He kept a detailed diary of his experiences in Japan from 1859 to 1866. In Yokohama, he helped found Walsh, Hall and Co., which became the leading American trading house in Japan. Two acres of land in Ellington were purchased from Chauncey C. Chapman for the library, with the understanding that the remaining part of the property would be maintained as a green. A 19,000 square foot addition was made to the library in 1992. Click for some postcard images of the library: 001, 002, 003.
The building now known as the Jordan Park House was originally built in 1928 as the Waterford Public Library. A gift of Mrs. Edward C. Hammond, it was located on Great Neck Road in Waterford, but was moved in 1961 to make way for a new railroad overpass. A new library on Rope Ferry Road opened in 1966. The old library building was transferred to Jordan Park, where it would soon be joined by other relocated historic structures: the 1740 Jordan Schoolhouse and the 1838 Beebe-Phillips House. The Jordan Park House was home to the offices of the Waterford Recreation and Parks Department until 1984 and since then to the Waterford Historical Society.
The Bristol Public Library first opened in 1892 in cramped quarters in a building on Main Street. In 1896 it moved to the Charles Treadway house at the corner of Main and High Streets. On this site a new library was built in 1906 and dedicated the following year. A Colonial Revival building, it was designed by Wilson Potter of New York, who specialized in academic buildings. A Children’s Library wing and an Auditorium were later added on the north side of the building, but these were razed in 2006 for a new addition, which better reflects the original Colonial Revival architecture.
The Slater Library, at 26 Main Street in Jewett City, serves the towns of Griswold and Lisbon. The library was the gift of industrialist and philanthropist John Fox Slater, who owned the Slater Mills in Jewett City. It had not been completed at the time of his death in 1884. His son, William Albert Slater, oversaw its completion and the library was dedicated in 1885. William A. Slater also donated the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich in honor of his farther. The Slater Library was designed by Stephen C. Earle of Worcester. It was constructed of granite, brought from Milford, Mass., and brownstone. The library‘s size was doubled in 1930 with the building of an addition (the Fanning Annex), designed by Cudworth and Thompson of Norwich.
The Watertown Library Association was established in 1865. First opened in the Academy on The Green and then occupying rented quarters above F.N. Barton’s Store on Woodbury Road, the library moved into its own building in 1883. A Richardsonian Romanesque structure at 50 DeForest Street, it was designed by Robert W. Hill of Waterbury. Dr. John Deforest had given the library $5000 in 1876 for a book fund and his brother, the merchant Benjamin DeForest, helped to fund the construction of the new library with a donation of $15,000 (pdf). The library moved into a modern building on Main Street in 1958. The former library building then became Our Savior Lutheran Church. It has more recently been purchased by the Taft School. Called Walker Hall, it is used as a performing arts space and chapel.
As related in Volume 2 of William Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1872):
The south Academic Association, formed in 1851, ran “well for a season,” when the shares were bought up by Mr. Parmenns B. Hulse, who taught a private academy for some years, but having a flattering call to go to New York and engage in a book agency, he sold the building” to Mr. Frederick S. Parker, of New Haven, who removed it to the place formerly owned by Hon. Charles B. Phelps, deceased, and fitted it up for a first-class boarding-school, and at the same time enlarged and fitted up, at great expense, the Phelps mansion, for the purpose of accommodating the scholars of such a school. Rev. Alonzo N. Lewis, who had married a daughter of Mr. Phelps, opened here a boarding-school. But, having been invited to become rector of a church at Dexter, Maine, he closed his school, and rented the premises for a dwelling house. It is a very valuable property, and it is hoped that a successful boarding-school may be established there. We have a healthy location, a tidy village, an orderly community, and a most beautiful valley, with pleasant surroundings—a good place for such an institution.
According to Julia Minor Strong’s The Town and People: A Chronological Compilation of Contributed Writings from Present and Past Residents of the Town of Woodbury, Connecticut (1901)
The principals of Parker Academy, so far as can be ascertained, were as follows: Samuel Spooner, P. B. Hulse, Mr. Phinney, Rev. A. N. Lewis, Aritus G. Loomis, James Patterson, Louise Noyes, Wilbur V. Rood, Edwin Turtle, H. C. Talmage, O. C. B. Nason, Edgar H. Grout, Edward S. Boyd, H. B. Moore and Rev. Wm. Weeks. While Mr. Hulse was instructor in Parker Academy Mr. Thompson taught a select school in his residence situated on the adjoining premises. Some times there would be seventy-five scholars in each of the two schools, and it was not uncommon for six or more students to enter Yale or other colleges each year from these schools. Parker Academy was moved to its present location near the post office when Rev. A. N. Lewis was principal, and he conducted a boarding school for pupils in connection with the Parker House, then owned by Frederick S. Parker.
The Woodbury Library Association was established in 1851. In 1902, the former Parker Academy building became the town library. A modern library building was later constructed and the former Parker Academy is now the Library’s Galley Annex.
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of thousands of libraries in North America, Europe and Oceania, including the one at 159 Pearl Street in Enfield. Carnegie provided $20,000 for the library, which covered the land, construction and furnishings. John Pickens, who successfully petitioned Carnegie for the funds in 1910, at first faced resistance from the town, which feared the library would be a burden. Pickens persevered and the library opened on May 5, 1914. The building later became a branch library after a new Enfield Center Library was built in 1967. Interestingly, there is also a Carnegie Library in the London Borough of Enfield.