South Cliff Street

Public Library

When the village of Ansonia was founded in 1844, among its first residential neighborhoods was South Cliff street, located atop a stone-faced cliff extending 60 feet from the street below. The identity of the street seems to have been framed by the impressive houses and mansions that reflected the social standing and prosperity of the affluent families residing on the street. 

The neighborhood served as the residence for Ansonia's industrialists, business, political and professional citizens, among whom were Arthur H. Bartholmew, first mayor; Charles Durand, Speaker of the CT House of Representatives; John Dearborn, manufacturer of screws and machine parts; George Schneller, President of S.O. & C. Company manufacturers of hoop skirts and shoe and corset laces; William Wallace, head of the Electrical & Supply Company; and Ralph Emerson, publisher of the Evening Sentinel. 

The Library was opened in 1896.† The structure was designed by George Keller of Hartford, and was built with walls of Longmeadow Freestone.† The original roof of unglazed Red Spanish tiles has undergone a change.†The old clock tower that worked by pulleys and weights now operates electrically.†

In line with the clock tower is the crest of the sculpture of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, nestled in the gable above the heavy old oak doors that open to an entrance hall.† On the west wall in the entrance hall is a plaque with a bas relief of Caroline Phelps Stokesí grandfather.†

From the west wall, stone steps lead up to the Ansonia Room.† This room is unique in its wealth of significant history and cultural information. Here, housed in a wooden and glass display case is the transit surveying instrument used in the development of Ansonia.†The water trough and hitching posts which were on the street curb for use of horses drawing carriages of patrons to see the new library, now is an outdoor sculpture scene on the left grounds of the library building. In August of 1985, the library became eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic places as a site of significance in American history and architecture.

Ansonia Public Library
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