NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– On today’s “Cruisin’ Connecticut” with the kids heading back to school, families will be spending more time in local libraries. The way kids are reading books may be evolving, but the history of the library building lives on.
The New Haven Free Public Library was built in 1911 by Cass Gilbert. Now Cass Gilbert was one of the most prominent architects of the day. He had designed the Woolworth Building in New York City. So it was a big deal to have him designing in New Haven.
Originally there was a Georgian-style house there that belonged to a judge. Cass Gilbert loved the entrance so much, that he salvaged the original door and donated it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Now it’s a place where the kids are going to be reading. But there’s so much history in the library and it all starts with murals.
They were both painted by a local artist. Unfortunately he died before one of the murals was finished. So another local artist, who was actually a local professor at Yale, came and finished the second mural. And he was actually part of “The Monuments Men”, which was depicted in the movie by George Clooney.
This library was dedicated in 1911, 125 year ago. In the dedication, they referred to the library as the “people’s university.” So it was seen as a place to have books in different languages for the new immigrant communities, even back in those days.