A Brief History

1924 Library painting by Bruce Lighty

1924 Library painting by Bruce Lighty

In 1910 a group of 12 young women from the Literary and Thimble Club came together to organize and incorporate the Clinton Public Library Association. The first library room was upstairs in the Eliot Building on Post Office Square.

The library began with 925 books, but within two years the crowded shelves led the organization to seek additional quarters through renting the second floor of the Merrill Building on Main Street. By 1913 the library had 2,560 volumes for patrons who favored fiction over nonfiction.

In 1924, when the Clinton National Bank moved to its Main Street location, the bank’s president, Henry Carter Hull, deeded to the association the red brick building at the head of Post Office Square that the bank had vacated.

 

The library on Main Street in 1951.

The library on Main Street in 1951.

As the years passed, the Hull family generously donated funds to enhance the collection. Again the need for more space was satisfied when another library building came about in 1951 through a bequest in the will of Arabelle Meigs Hull, Henry Carter Hull’s wife. To this Georgian building on Main Street a new children’s room was installed in 1962 with a seating capacity of 36. In 1978 another expansion added space over the back room of the library. Through appeals and fundraisers, the Board of Trustees collected $10,000 and secured a mortgage to support this construction.

At that time the annual circulation was 50,000, and that figure would move beyond 220,000 toward the close of the century.The cramped building with its numerous ADA violations and limited parking space prompted the Board of Trustees to consider further expansion. Its study indicated that the lack of land at the current site would require the library to relocate.

In the summer of 1995, a piece of property, which formerly housed the corporate headquarters of a bank, became available for purchase. In February 1996, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance voted in favor of sending the purchase of the property on to a public hearing and referendum. At the end of February the latter was held and the purchase of the property was approved by a 2-1 margin. After that purchase for $1,300,000, the selectmen voted to lease the property to the library board for one dollar a year for a period up to 90 years.

The library at 10 Killingworth Turnpike.

The library at 10 Killingworth Turnpike.

A major fundraising campaign brought in over $250,000, including a generous commitment of $50,000 from Chesebrough-Pond’s, a subsidiary of Unilever. The Director of the Library, Gary Cummings, secured a library construction grant for $500,000. In June of 1998 work began on the new facility with its official dedication on September 5, 1998.

With its 20,000 available square feet, the new home is so splendid in many ways: plenty of room for its 85,000-item collection, multiple meeting rooms, a spacious children’s area, ample space for new releases, and audio-visual materials on the first floor, and parking for 80. Upstairs, adult services are surrounded with large windows that allow natural light to flow through the building. In the main stairwell, you may see our resident female osprey, Arabella, who was donated by local resident, Louis Bougie.

To the left of the entrance to the old building is a bronze plaque that honors the founders of the library. Following their names is the saying, “Good deeds are everlasting.” How fulfilling these words have become.

To read the 12 page library history created by Dolores Johnston, who was a life-long library board member, please click here.