Thursday, October 16, 2008

History of Banister Memorial Hall, aka Merrick Public Library

Apple Country Fair visitors request more information about Brookfield's beautiful public library...

Merrick Public Library was est. in 1867, Banister Memorial is a living legacy in honor of its donor William Banister. The institution's designation as the Merrick Public Library recalls Pliny Merrick's Esq. early role as a key library founder.

State Supreme Court Justice Pliny Merrick, a native son of Brookfield, substantially increased the size of the Brookfield library society's collection through his bequest of four hundred and fifty volumes, 1867. The augmented library collection was first held in the basement of a local attorney's office and in the Brookfield high school building. This building was located on Central Street where the EMS and Fire Department are now located next to Brookfield's Memorial Town Hall.

In 1882 William Banister of New York, born in Brookfield, offered to have "a suitable an expense not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars as an expression of regard for the town of birth" constructed for the library. Subsequently, Mrs. N.S.R. Fenton donated a lot on Banister Common as the site for the proposed building. Wm. Banister also requested this structure be built within a year of the bequest!

Wait & Cutter of Boston was approved for the design from solicited architects. Levi Moody, a Springfield contractor, was chosen to erect the structure. The completed library was dedicated on January 31, 1884. Our sister library is located in Tilton, New Hampshire, but they have renovated and expanded.

In 1898 the Gallery was built to meet the 'running out of space need'! We have pewter lanterns on our mantel which circulated in the early 1900's. I believe our teen photographer Bethany has posted a lovely photo of the Gallery. The Gargoyle design was included in the historic Romanesque style masonry....

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