“The goal of preservation is to protect our historic built environment as a living, functional part of our lives; there is no better way to understand history than to be able to encounter it physically.”—Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council, New York City
New Canaan Library has been the town’s intellectual center since 1877, when it began as an Elm Street storefront reading room founded by volunteers with donated books and the funds they raised. In 1895 the library became a public-private partnership with the town, based on the first annual town grant of $100. Recognizing the benefits of an excellent library, residents Albert Comstock and Jesse St. John made estate gifts to the library. These legacy gifts allowed the library, in 1913, to build its present building on the corner of Cherry and Main. In the tradition of Comstock and St. John, New Canaan residents continued to generously support the library and its capital drives for expansions in 1937, 1952 and 1979.