Mystic & Noank Library

 

In 1891, Captain Elihu Spicer of Mystic and Brooklyn, N.Y. announced that he planned to build a library on the corner of West Main and Elm Streets for the communities of Mystic and Noank. The building would be two stories with a library, complete with a book collection on the second floor, and a large public meeting room on the first floor.

Click for larger image Capt. Elihu Spicer

Captain Spicer was born in Noank, Connecticut in 1825 and went to sea at the age of nine. He became a cabin boy at age fourteen and was Master of the bark "Fanny" at age twenty-two. During subsequent years, he mastered many sailing ships for trade around the world. In 1861, Captain Spicer entered into a partnership with a life-long Mystic friend, Charles H. Mallory, to form the C.H. Mallory & Co. in New York. The venture proved successful in the trade between New York, Florida and Galveston, Texas. This success allowed Captain Spicer to engage in philanthropic activities.

The Deed Click for larger image

William Bigelow of New York drew up the plans and Mertz's Sons of Port Chester was the contractor. Spicer's own architect, William Higginson, supervised the construction. Unfortunately, Capt. Spicer did not live to see the completion of the library. In his will he had provided for the completion of the building and the aquisition of the collection of four thousand books. Capt. Spicer's sister, Sarah Dickinson, and Mr. Mallory carried out the completion.

Click for larger image Under construction 1893

The Library was dedicated on January 23, 1894 with formal Ceremonies in the New Meeting Room. The building itself is built of Roman brick, granite from Leete's Island (CT), sandstone from Longmeadow (Mass.), and marbles from Vermont, Tennessee and Africa. Tile floors from Italy, Cathedral glass transoms, a gleaming oak Cathedral ceiling, and sculptured friezes complete this magnificent building on the hill overlooking Mystic. The fireplace on the second floor displays the following; "Elihu Spicer gave this library to the people. Large was his bounty and his soul sincere".

The original building Click for larger image

In 1951, the Board of Trustees voted to move the library to the first floor. By 1961, the first floor was overcrowded and they voted to move the children's collection to the second. Stonington architect John Dodge was hired to handle the design and remodeling. A drop ceiling was installed and a dividing wall was established so the second floor could house both a children's room and a storage room.

Click for larger image Foundation for addition

By the 1980's, major repairs were necessary and overcrowding was evident. To celebrate the upcoming Centennial year, the Trustees presented a plan calling for an addition to the building, as well as major restoration of the original building. A fund raising campaign was launched in 1987 with overwhelming community support. In December 1991, a 6,000 square foot addition was dedicated and in May 1992, the restoration was completed. The architect, Charles King of King & Tuthill of Avon, Connecticut, very successfully combined the old and the new. There was a formal opening of the building on May 17, 1992 with a ribbon cutting and a community celebration. The shears used to cut the ribbon are preserved in a case on the second floor.

Roofing the addition Click for larger image

The library is proud of it's growth and development. It now offers a bright, contemporary Children's Room with it's own Activity Room for the story hours, on the first floor. The first floor also houses a Meeting Room, the adult audio-visual materials, the newer books, and the first part of the Fiction collection. On the second floor, the remainder of the adult collection, and the staff offices share both the new and old spaces under the oak Cathedral ceiling that has remained intact through the years.

Click for larger image The finished addition

It is still a special place for the communities of Mystic and Noank, as well as the neighboring areas, just as Captain Spicer had envisioned over a hundred years ago.

Ribbon cutting Shears Click for larger image