Friday, March 27, 2009

History of Banister Memorial Hall

Coming soon! The Friends of the Library will have available a new Cat’s Meow to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Banister Memorial Hall, Merrick Public Library.
In 1882 William A. Banister sent word to Brookfield of his desire to build a library in town. Banister, who lived in New York, wanted the library built in honor of his ancestors buried in the Brookfield Cemetery. His ancestors are named on a large memorial plaque outside the main entrance to the library: Joseph Banister died in 1731; Seth Banister, 1793; Col. Seth Banister, 1819; Capt. Seth Banister, 1852 and the Rev. Seth Banister died in 1861.
Banister set aside $10,000 to construct the library and include a reading room. The library was to house the $10,000 worth of books donated by the Hon. Pliny Merrick in 1867.
In November of the same year Nancy S.R. Felton donated the site in order to build the library, in memory of her late husband, Hon. Oliver C. Felton who had a "deep and life long interest for intellectual and social elevation of people." The land is located on the corner of Common and Lincoln streets. The architects chosen were Wait & Cutter of Boston. Levi Moody of Springfield was chosen to begin construction in January of 1883. The Romanesque style of architecture was constructed of a roof made of slate and overhanging terra cotta ridges that compliment the brownstone trim and red brick exterior.
The interior is completed with birch wood paneling and shelves. In the entryway are examples of period stained glass windows. The doorways in the library are also made of birch and in the form of an arch. The gallery was added in 1898, due to the need for more shelving for the collection.

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