South Glastonbury Public Library

80 High Street
South Glastonbury, CT 06073

860-633-4793

History

The Present :  The South Glastonbury Public Library is a volunteer association supported by the work and donations of its members; funds granted by the Town of Glastonbury; funds donated by interested citizens; and the help of, and allocation of funds by, the Connecticut State Library. The property and direction of the Library Association is under the control of a Board of Trustees. The officers of the Association - President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer - are chosen by the members, and act with the Trustees to constitute a governing board for the management and control of the affairs of the Association. This library serves primarily as a reading library rather than as a reference library. The majority of the books checked out are those that have been discussed in the press and are on the best seller list. Besides reading materials, the library also houses three original oil paintings by David Magee, as well as an antique globe and furniture. We are fortunate to have two special collections: the Kinne Memorial Collection and the Earl H. Hodge Natural Science Collection. The Kinne collection focuses on early American arts and crafts and the Hodge collection focuses on natural science

The Past :

The exact time when Methodist meetings were first held in South Glastonbury is not known. Reverend Paine, a local preacher, fitted up a room in his house on Still Hill for meetings, and a class was organized some time before 1826. Meetings were also held at the home of Edward Goodrich, where shipley W. Wilson and others preached. In 1828, a red brick MethodistChurch was built by Parley Bidwell on High Street in South Glastonbury, Connecticut. The congregation of the church underwent a large revival in 1839, when A. C. Wheat was pastor and thirty-two new members united with the church. In 1843, many members accepted the doctrines of William Miller, who in 1831 interpreted the scriptures as foretelling the coming of Christ and the end of the world in 1843. Disputes arose that led to estrangement and separation, culminating in the closing of the church in 1859. Between the years of 1859 and 1869, the building was used by the local Black community as an unofficial Black church. It also served its purpose as a gathering place for anislavery rallies during this time. In 1869, the building was reopened, with Reverend Mellen Howard as the stationed pastor. A revival during this time resulted in the conversion of thirty people The closing of the local cotton mills, together with a decrease in population, reduced the membership of the congregation so that it was impossible to sustain a full-time pastor. However, until around 1910, occasional services were held. During the next 13 years, the building was used only for summer services. In 1926, Miss Amy Pratt proposed that the building be used as a library. Miss Martha Kinne agreed and asked Mrs. Helen Walsh Thompson, who had recently purchased both the MethodistChurch and the adjoining Bates Tavern if the church building could be utilized as a library. On December 19, 1926, a meeting was called at the MethodistChurch for all those interested to come and discuss the possibilities of establishing a Public Library in South Glastonbury. The sixteen present signed as Charter Members: Martha E. Kinne, Henry H. Hunt, George C. Savage, Amy L. Pratt, Emma K. Tryon, Florence J. H. Curtis, Viola Vanderbeek, Julia W. Ward, Elizabeth Hamilton, James W. Ward, Jennie A. Pratt, Reverend Marcus J. Simpson, Alfred H. Pratt, Theodore Pratt, Emily C. Pratt, and Louis W. Howe. For the opening of the building as a library in 1927, Viola Vanderbeek gave $300 to be used for reconditioning the building as a library. Mrs. Helen Thompson allowed the building to be used for a nominal fee from 1926 to 1941. Then in 1941, she deeded the building to the South glastonbury Library Association and designated the gift in memory of John David Walsh. Miss Amy L. Pratt, first president, was an inspiration and guide during the early years of the library. The first librarian was Mrs. Emily Covell Pratt, who was noted for her careful slection of books and her talent for matching books with readers. Records of 1927 show 200 members and more than 2,000 properly catalogued books. Since then growth has been steady. Over the years the library has given regular service and sponsored many activies: art exhibits, flower shows, school programs with posters, book reviews, book plays, a sewing class, lectures, summer reading for children, and book exhibits. In addition to an increased grant from the town, a number of additions and improvements have been made. The interior has been remodelled to make space for more shelves. new lights, curtains, and an up-to-date heating system

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