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HISTORY OF THE
The buildings of the Prosser Public
Library and the P. Faith McMahon Wintonbury Library date from 1965 and
1972 respectively. However, the history of libraries in
Bloomfield predates the Town’s incorporation in 1835. There were
at least three, perhaps, four subscription libraries that
preceded the founding of Prosser Public Library as the main
library in the Town of Bloomfield, Ct. The Wintonbury Society
Library was in existence from
1793-1824 and was affiliated with the Congregational Church. The
Wintonbury Union Library operated in the decade prior to the
Civil War. The inscription of the Young Gentlemen and Ladies
Library appeared in some of the early books donated to Prosser
Library. The last library of interest was the Bloomfield Library
Company that was operated by Samuel G. Buckingham from his
cobbler shop that was located on Tunxis Ave. (Prosser Library
owns a bench from the cobbler shop. Cobbler Buckingham was shown
on early bookplates of the Prosser Library.) In 1900 Levi
Prosser, son of a prominent Bloomfield family but a resident of
Massachusetts, left 1/6th of his estate ($15,255.85) to the Town
of Bloomfield to establish a free public library.
Prosser Library was dedicated in
1903 and was housed in a multi-purpose building that included
the Town Hall and was located on the Library’s present site, 1
Tunxis Ave. In 1963, the original building was torn down.
Unfortunately, while the library’s collections were in storage
at the Center Grammar School on Jerome Ave, that building was
destroyed by fire along with most of the collections. The present
building was dedicated in 1965. There were also precursors to
the P. Faith McMahon Wintonbury Library. A home in North Bloomfield
served as the first branch library beginning in 1908.
The Blue Hills Branch Library, also
called The East Branch Library, was funded by the Women’s
Auxiliary of the Citizen’s Party beginning in 1933. It was later
supported by the Town of Bloomfield. The present P. Faith McMahon
Wintonbury Library at 1015 Blue Hills Avenue opened in 1972.*
*Information about Prosser Public Library comes from the book,
From Wintonbury to Bloomfield
published by the Wintonbury Historical Society, 1983. The
Bloomfield History Collection.
Prosser Public Library owns a small but significant historical
collection related to the Town of Bloomfield.
The oldest portion is made up of approximately 115 books that
were donated to Prosser Library when it
was established in 1903. The books came from the town’s original
subscription libraries. Town newspapers are an important segment
of the collection. The library owns a full run of The Messenger
published in Bloomfield during World War II, The Bloomfield Zip,
and the Bloomfield Journal.
Earlier this year postcards from the 1935 centennial celebration
were digitized and now appear on the Connecticut State Library
website in a collection called Treasures of Connecticut
Libraries. (Visit the website at:
) Citizens of the Town of Bloomfield are justifiably proud of
their fine libraries and the historical collections that they
are preserving for future generations.