Monday, April 13, 2009

Six Great Places to Visit in New Britain - Part 6


The current New Britian Public Library is located at the corner of High and West Main Street. This beautiful architectural masterpiece began in 1900 when funds donated from the estate of Cornelius B. Erwin made it possible. The architect of the building was a New Britain resident named William F. Brooks. He was a partner in the Hartford based architectural firm of Davis & Brooks. The dedication and opening were held on January 19, 1901.

But there is a long history that lead up to the opening of this amazing building. In 1853 a group of determined men started the New Britain Institute and their goal was to promote a series of lectures and establish a library and reading room. The first library/reading room was opened in the Miller block on Main Street. The Connecticut General Assembly incorporated the New Britain Institute in 1858. During the civil war the library was closed due to lack of funds. The library reopened in the Hart block on Main Street in 1869. Mark Twain gave the first lecture of the 1869 season. Some other notable lecturers at the library were Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Thomas Nast.

In 1886, the library was relocated from the Miller block to the Russwin Building on West main Street. The library remained there until it was finally moved to its current location.

Today the library strives to fulfill the community's informational, educational, and recreational needs by providing a wide range of materials including books, videos, and CD's. They also offer internet access and public computer access. Some of the current library programs include childrens story hours, book discussions, musical and puppetry performances, and local artists can display their artwork in the main library showcases.

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