Library Visit: Chester Public Library (CT)


I first drove past the Chester Public Library a couple years ago when we were visiting CT from IL, looking at houses. Since we’ve moved to the area I’ve driven past it several more times, but always when it was closed or when we were on a mission. Earlier this week I dropped my dog off at the vet for a teeth cleaning a town or two over and decided to drive on to Chester and visit the library since I knew it was open.

Chester Public Library
21 W. Main Street
Chester, CT 06412

There has been some form of a library in Chester since 1789. The Chester Library Association was created in 1875. In 1906 S. Mills Ely proposed building a memorial library to honor his parents. The town accepted his offer and the current library opened on August 6, 1907.

The current building’s days as a library may be numbered as the Town of Chester has applied for a $1 million CT State Library Construction Grant. As you’ll see in the pictures below, the library is well organized, but in serious need of more space for books, computers, study space, and even bathrooms.

It was mid-morning when I stopped in and there were several people coming in and out, returning and checking out books. Everyone was smiling and chatting. The place has a great vibe. It was such a pleasure to talk with both Patty and Pam who were on duty. They were not only very welcoming, but obviously proud of their library and it’s history, architecture, and mission.


Although this is a memorial library, there are no plaques or names making a statement. I recall reading that Andrew Carnegie didn’t want his name on the library buildings he funded, but some towns did add his name or put up a sign.
My favorite view of a classically inspired facade.
I’m in love with these beautiful red front doors. A screen door to let in fresh air on warmer days.
Window detail.
Ghost of the old book drop built into the door.
The new book drop.
Of course I gave my email to hear about upcoming events. They’re also have a book sale in January.
The foyer. New fiction and new nonfiction bookcases flank the entryway.
This is what you see when you walk in. Such warmth!
To the right is the adult nonfiction section. There’s work table in there at which someone was working. Notice the floor tile.
To the left is the children’s section. Cheery with bright light from the large windows. Notice how high the ceilings are.
Straight ahead when you walk in, behind the circulation desk, is this beautiful fireplace.
The painting above the fireplace is by a local artist (whose name I failed to write down). The colors are vibrant and made me wish I had a better camera with me so you could see.
Small windows let in light where it’s needed. Notice this small window matches the larger front and side windows.
Workspace detail. More colorful local art atop the bookcase.
The teeny-tiny original bathroom is back behind the circulation desk. In case you’re wondering it is a one seater, which has to be a challenge on busy days when folks are hanging out reading/studying.
The stairway down to the YA and mystery sections (among other sections).
Some Chester Library history.
Small rectangular window lights up the staircase and opens to catch a cross breeze.
Downstairs. There are more sections behind the wall of shelves to the left/front.
I’d put that bumper sticker on my car!
The mystery section.
Work tables. Fiction in the background.
Cather on the shelf!
I know computer systems are much more user friendly, but I still get a warm feeling in my heart when I see a card catalog.
You want to open it, don’t you?
I had to look inside for old time’s sake.
Bulletin board and staircase leading back upstairs.
Why, yes, I am missing Downton Abbey! (Season 5 premiers 1/4/15)
Access to the stairwell is through the children’s section.
October is Connecticut Archives Month.
Front window detail.
Looks like original gutters to me.
Peeking into the lower level. Again, notice how even this little square window in the back of the building, a window most people won’t see from the outside or notice on the inside, matches the grandeur of the larger windows on the front and side of the building. It’s rare to find such attention to detail and/or expenditure made for a window not in public view (now or back in 1907).
Back door. As on the other side the rectangle windows are unadorned, but look like they open.
Benches for outside reading or, I suspect, a smoke break.
Strong corner. From here it looks like this building can stand for another hundred years.
The view from the library steps.
View of the library from across the street.

I didn’t ask what will happen to this building after the new library is built. It may be too early for anyone to know, but let’s hope it is re-purposed and enjoys an active second life.


  1. That is a beautiful building, full of layers of textures and history and dignity and warmth. Let us hope that it continues to exist in some form and is not replaced entirely by a sterile glass box. It would make a lovely community arts center, for instance. I loved my local Carnegie public library when growing up in Kentucky, and when it was superceded by something suitably Seventies, it was repurposed into an arts center. here is the link:

  2. Hi Gina, sorry for the delayed response. I just checked out your link and saw several interior shots and one of the facade–what a beautiful building! The dome is gorgeous and I like the statue of Carnegie out front.

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