The E. W. Morris Memorial Library Building that forms the historic front wing of the Ridgefield Library opened its doors for the first time on June 22, 1903. The Library is planning to commemorate this milestone anniversary in a variety of ways this summer, and the community is invited to share their memories of the Library and its place in their lives. A new project — part of the Library’s “All Together Now” Summer Reading activities — will allow residents to create and share materials on a collaborative online platform. The Library will be providing more information about this project in the coming weeks.
The E.W. Morris Memorial Library Building at 472 Main Street was not the first library to serve Ridgefield’s residents: in 1795 a subscription library opened in town with a collection of 150 volumes, followed by Hiram K. Scott’s Circulating Library in 1852. The Ridgefield Library and Historical Association was established in 1871 and incorporated by the State of Connecticut in 1901. Library services were offered in a variety of locations in town until the purchase of the former Smith Tavern property at the corner of Main and Prospect Streets in 1900, with construction of the Morris Memorial Building commencing in 1901. The building and land were purchased and donated by Library Board Member James N. Morris, a New York businessman who summered in Ridgefield, in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth. Architect Raleigh C. Gildersleeve’s design for the building blends the Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Chicago styles and makes beautiful use of marble, granite, brick, copper, bronze and decorative ironwork. The Morris Building is part of the Ridgefield Center Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the Morris Building is comprised of the Friends of the Ridgefield Library Reading Room, which houses the Library’s periodical collection; the Sara and Rudy Ruggles, Jr. Reading Room, containing fine and performing arts collections; the Liz and Steven Goldstone Special Collections Room, containing poetry, plays and literary criticism; and the Randolph Board Room meeting space. In an active and vibrant 21st-century library, the Morris Building also serves as a Ridgefield Library designated quiet space. After 120 years, the Morris Building continues to welcome generations of Ridgefielders.
Check our website to learn more about upcoming activities and programs at the Library, including the celebration of the Morris Memorial Building this summer.