Library Stop: The (old) Otis Library, Norwich, CT

The (old) Otis Library
80 Broadway
Norwich, CT

  • Built by: Joseph Otis (July 1768-April 1854)
  • Opened: 1850
  • Architectural style: Greek Revival
  • The library opened with 250 volumes and over 1,000 subscribers.
  • Hamlin B. Buckingham was the first librarian.
  • By February 1865 the library had 6,666 books. A library “ticket” for the year cost $1.
  • In use as a library until 1962.
  • The building is now known as the William F. Bourgun Memorial, which houses Norwich’s Department of Human Services.
Mr. Otis spent $10, 500 on the land, the building, the furniture, and the initial book collection. He also left $6, 500 in his will for the library.


The Old Otis Library in Norwich, CT (WildmooBooks)
Originally, the first floor was the library and the second floor was the pastor’s study. The lamps are a later addition.


The library is directly across from Town Hall.

Read some history of the library here.


A stylized rendering of how the library looked in its early days. Source: Forgotten Founders


An old postcard of Union Square that shows the library (Source: the new Otis Library’s Flickr account).



The new Otis Library, which is just blocks away on Main Street, was awarded a 2016 Museum and Library Services national award.

Michelle Obama presents award to Bassem Gayed and Robert Farwell of the Otis Library
Michelle Obama presents the award to Bassem Gayed & Robert Farwell of the Otis Library (source).

Norwich, CT was established in 1659 and was a thriving city by the time of the American Revolution. It was the center of activities for the Sons of Liberty as well as the birthplace of Benedict Arnold.

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