Russell Library History

Fun Fact

In 1840, Christ Episcopal Church rented the basement of the church to Connecticut’s first public high school for $125 a year. One year later, the high school moved up to College Street.

Fun Fact

Samuel Colt, American inventor, industrialist, and businessman who established Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company, was married in the church on June 5, 1856.

Fun Fact

Mrs. Frances Russell purchased the church building for $15,000. In today’s dollars that would equal $370,000. She spent another $25,000 remodeling the building. Today that remodel would cost $600,000!

Fun Fact

Once the building became a library, weddings continued to happen in the public meeting room. The very first wedding in the library took place in 1896, and the groom was the son of the janitor, Warren Pease, who lived in the basement.

How Russell Library Came to Be

Frances Russell established Russell Library in memory of her husband, Samuel. Purchasing the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity on the corner of Broad and Court Streets in 1873, Mrs. Russell remodeled the Greek Revivial building in the Roman Gothic Style, including adding the stained glass windows and a tower off the back of the building. The building opened as the public library for the City of Middletown on April 5, 1876. Patrons had to be 14 years old to borrow materials and everyone was only allowed to borrow one book at a time!

1930

The Hubbard Room was added, creating Middletown’s first children’s library.

1950s

The first mezzanine level was added in the original church building to provide room for more book stacks.

1972

The Library purchased the old the First Federal Savings and Loan Bank located on the lot next to the library. The building was remodeled and became a separate Children’s Library.

1983

The church and the Children’s Library (old bank building) were connected. The current children’s room was built and the second mezzanine level was added. Access was improved by the addition of an elevator and ramps.  The combined buildings surround an inner courtyard. The renovation was intended to take the library to the year 2000.

1997

Responding to space needs, the library purchased an adjacent building on Court Street for staff offices.

Russell Library Directors

George F. Winchester, 1876-1884

Willis K. Stetson, 1884-1887

Laura F. Philbrook, 1887-1917

Edna H. Wilder, 1917-1926

Nathaly E. Newton, 1926-1963

William Van Beynum, 1963-1978

Arlene Biefield, May-June 1978

Linda Rusczek, 1978-1979

Stuart Porter, 1979-1997

Arthur Myers, 1997-2016

Matthew Poland, 2016-2018

Ramona Burkey, 2018-present

In 2021, Middletown and the Russell Library commissioned a comprehensive
facility conditions assessment and space planning recommendations project.

HMA2 architects, in collaboration with Legacy Engineers, Maxine Bleiweis & Associates, and AP Construction,
was hired to deliver assessments and recommendations to set the stage for the Russell Library going forward.

Russell Library

123 Broad Street
Middletown CT 06457

Phone

860-347-2528

Events

Online Calendar

Library Hours

Mon-Thurs 9am-8pm
Fri-Sat 9am-5pm
Sunday 1-5pm (October-March)