The Wallingford Historical Society buys the library building

WALLINGFORD — The Wallingford Historical Society has purchased the Yalesville Library building and Bob Beaumont, the society’s first vice president, hopes it will help the group “keep the Yalesville name alive.”

“Yalesville has had its own identity for decades and it’s very much a community within a community,” Beaumont said.

The historical society purchased the building on September 16 for $235,000.

“We had the funds, so we paid,” Beaumont said.

The Yalesville Library, an 1,862 square foot building, opened in 1936 at its current location, 400 Church St. (Route 68).

Extension of the Wallingford Public Library, it closed at the start of the pandemic.

Jane Fisher, executive director of the Wallingford Public Library, said before it closed that the Yalesville building had limited hours.

It functioned as a place “where people could come in and borrow books from a small, really, really small collection of books,” she said. “He had two public access computers. It was most often used by people to retrieve their reserved books that they had put on hold. People from this part of Wallingford and the South Meriden community used it to collect their catch.

Fisher said the building was renovated a few years ago, but still hasn’t attracted the number of patrons library officials expected.

“We felt it was really not the best use of taxpayer resources to continue to operate the building,” Fisher said.

The building went on the market in June, Fisher said, but there were restrictions on using that site, which made it difficult to find a buyer.

“It was used for library purposes, but the building could not be sold for commercial purposes,” Fisher said. “We knew it might be difficult to find a buyer and were thrilled when the Wallingford Historical Society decided to make an offer on the property so they could continue to use the property to serve the Yalesville community.”

Coming

In March, the Record-Journal reported that the Yalesville Library building did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and lacked public restrooms. These are problems, among other things, that the historical society will have to overcome.

“There’s a lot to look at,” Beaumont said. “…The building itself is in good condition. The library took care of it. »

Beaumont said the group will form a committee in the coming weeks to determine how the property will be used.

“We will definitely use (the building) to display the Yalesville material that we have,” Beaumont said.

Wallingford Historical Society board member Shirley Lagerstrom said the organization is open to people who donate materials about Yalesville’s history.

“I just think probably (the people of Yalesville) would like a little bit of pride in their part of town,” Lagerstrom said.

A council member suggested using it as a research facility, Beumont said.

He is currently working on repairing the building, including the chimney lining.

“There are very minor things that need to be done overall to move forward and take care of the building,” Beaumont said. “At the moment, being an old library, it is full of all kinds of shelves, some of which will remain… some will definitely be removed. It will depend on the committee.

Fisher said it was a tough decision to sell the building.

“It’s always a tough decision for a library to lose an outlet, to lose a site,” Fisher said. “But in this case, I think because we have such a spectacular main library that has all the modern conveniences of public libraries, people just weren’t using the Yalesville Library often the way we thought.”

History of Yalesville

Yalesville, located in the northwest part of the city, was founded in 1677 and officially named in 1808.

“Yalesville is a vibrant community and has been a vibrant community for a long time and at one point you go back to the 1700s, Yalesville was really pretty much the center of industry because they had like four different types of factories,” Beaumont said.

Charles Yale bought the mills, which were located in the area along the Quinnipiac River that now houses Westbrook Lobster and other businesses. The purchase sparked the name “Yalesville”.

Yalesville “was a pretty busy little area,” Beaumont said. Other manufacturing companies in the city settled there to take advantage of the hydraulic energy provided by the river.

However, Beaumont said that nowadays you don’t see many buildings with the name “Yalesville.” In 2017, Yalesville Elementary School was renamed in honor of the late longtime State Representative Mary G. Fritz.

“It’s been known as Yalesville for 200 years,” Beaumont said. “How many is left that says ‘Yalesville’?” Not a lot.”

Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said Yalesville has been an important part of Wallingford’s history.

“It’s an important geographic part of the city, so using the building for display and as a resource for historical activities, surveys and research, I think should work well,” Dickinson said.

Lagerstrom said the historical society is looking for more members, especially younger members and those from the Yalesville area. Meetings are held four times a year and annual dues are $5.

“We’re looking for new members from the Yalesville area in particular, but throughout the city, anyone who is interested in the history of not just Wallingford, but the area,” Lagerstrom said.

[email protected]: @jessica_simms99