Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List
Simsbury Free Library
749 Hopmeadow Street
P.O.Box 484
Simsbury, CT 06070
Hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:00 to 5:00
2nd and 4th Saturdays
10:00 to 2:00
860/408-1336

Email: simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com
 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS   
 

 

To make a reservation or for more info,

call 860-408-1336

or email simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com.

 

 

David Holdt Talks About McLean Game Refuge

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 6:30 p.m.

David Holdt will read “George McLean & the George Family: A Bond with the Land,” his 2002 biography of McLean Game Refuge – the land and the people responsible for it. Holdt lived in an old house in the McLean Game Refuge from 1974 to 1979, where he wrote, did a lot of exploring, and met Henry George, his teacher and guide and caretaker of the Refuge. Don't miss this fascinating talk about Senator McLean, the Presidents who visited him, the Pequot family member who knew a lot about nature and came to be McLean's estate caretaker, and much more.

 

David Holdt is a poet and writer. He worked at the Watkinson School from 1978 to 2008 in many roles, including teacher, dean, department chair, principal, master teacher, and trustee; he was an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford from 1995 to 2011; and he worked at the Westledge School from 1970-1977. Currently he is a Memoir Club Facilitator at University of Connecticut’s Center for Learning in Retirement.  Holdt is a graduate of Wesleyan University (BA, Government), Duke University (MA, History), Wesleyan Graduate Liberal Studies Program CAS (Humanities – Writing) and Boston University School of Education (Outdoor Education).

 

Free to members; $5 for non-members. RSVPs are requested. To make a reservation or for more information, call 860-408-1336 or email simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com.
 
 Drop In Genealogy

Saturday, September 10 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.
 

Researching your family tree and don't know where else to look to find missing ancestors?  Bring any information you have and let genealogist Marilyn Giese help. Marilyn has over 40 years of experience.  She specializes in researching vital records and land records, as well as immigration and colonial records.  She has particular expertise in New England, Canada, Scotland, England and Ireland.  Free to members.  $5 for non-members.

 
 

From Brownstone to Cast Stone: The Ketchin-Herpel Story

Talk, Walking Tour and Lunch

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 9:00 a.m., followed by a walking tour at 10:30 a.m., and lunch

A. J. Ketchin & Son built almost all the brownstone buildings in Simsbury:  the Ensign-Bickford fuse factory, the Methodist Church, the high school (now Simsbury Town Hall), the Wilcox house (now Vincent Funeral Home), the R.H. Ensign stables (now The Courtyard), the J.R. Ensign house (later Webster Bank), the Tariffville Volunteer Firehouse (formerly the Ketchin tobacco warehouse) and more.  Frederick Henry Herpel donated his great grandfather William Mansfield Ketchin’s memoirs to the Simsbury Free Library and they were the basis of a five-part article written by Mary Jane Springman and published in the Simsbury Free Library’s Quarterly publication in 2011-12.  After enlisting John Nagy as speaker, the three of them presented a program about Andrew and William Ketchin’s brownstone buildings last fall at the Simsbury Public Library.

 

This fall the trio will recap some Ketchin history and move on the cast stone businesses that William Ketchin and his descendants established in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida.  For a preview of one business, go to the website for Herpel, Inc. Cast Stone and Columns (www.herpelcaststone.com).

 

After the illustrated talk, please come on a narrated walking tour along Hopmeadow Street to view some Ketchin brownstone buildings.  Jim Ray, historian for Simsbury United Methodist Church, will point out special details on the church’s exterior.  Rick Herpel will explain particularly fine stonework on the Joseph R. Ensign house.  Those who would like to follow the tour with a lunch at Metro Bis are welcome to join Rick, John and Mary Jane.  The cost of the lunch is $23.00 and includes 

 

The talk and tour are free to members, $5 for non-members.  Lunch will include your choice of one of 8 luncheon options, assorted cookies and brownies, coffee, tea or other non-alcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity.  Espresso, cappuccino, bottled water and alcoholic beverages are extra.Space is limited.  Reservations are required for each event. 

 

To make a reservation or for more information, call 860-408-1336 or email simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com.

Hartford in World War I

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 6:30 p.m.

 

David Drury, journalist and author of the recently published book Hartford in World War I, will speak about the war and how it impacted both the Hartford men and women who served in the war and the people at home.  Simsbury’s Ensign-Bickford Company played a significant role and the town was reputedly the first in the region to have a full company of recruits organized and in uniform after the U.S. entered the war, the author wrote.

 

Free to members, $5 for non-members.  Reservations are requested.  To make a reservation or for more information, call 860-408-1336 or email

Drop In Book Club: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 11:15 a.m.

 

From Amazon: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over – she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

 

New members in search of great book discussions and even better company are always welcome at the SFL’s Drop In Book Club.  Readers are welcome any time they are interested in the SFL’s monthly book.  Past book discussions have included The Boys in the Boat, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and One Thousand White Women. Free. For more info, call (860) 408-1338 or email simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com.

 

PAST EVENTS:

 

The Farmington Canal with Carl Walters

If you missed Carl Walter's Farmington Canal talk on June 9th, it is now available on SCTV's website:  Click here to see it!
 

Rails and Trails: The Iron Horse in Simsbury, 1850-2016


If you missed Bob Belletzkie's great talk, Click here to see it!


 Add Row
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, May 20th, 1 p.m.
Connecticut History Talk with Tom Ratliff:  "Hartford from 1820-1920"
  
In this fifth and final lecture in his series exploring Connecticut's rich historical past, Tom Ratliff will talk about the period of rapid industrial growth and large-scale i
Tuesday, May 20th, 1 p.m.
Connecticut History Talk with Tom Ratliff:  "Hartford from 1820-1920"
  
In this fifth and final lecture in his series exploring Connecticut's rich historical past, Tom Ratliff will talk about the period of rapid industrial growth and large-scale i

DROP IN BOOK CLUB

 

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Tuesday, May 12th at 11:15 a.m.:  

 

From Booklist: What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark’s descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book’s mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clarks life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery.


No need to join this book club.  Just drop in when you are in town or when the book is of interest.


DROP IN BOOK CLUB

 

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Tuesday, May 12th at 11:15 a.m.:  

 

From Booklist: What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark’s descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book’s mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clarks life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery.


No need to join this book club.  Just drop in when you are in town or when the book is of interest.


 

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!

 
FARMINGTON CANAL MAPS PUBLISHED
 
  
 

In partnership with canal expert Carl E. Walter, the Simsbury Free Library (SFL) has just published nine maps of the Farmington Canal. The map series includes one for each of the towns through which the canal once ran: New Haven, Hamden, Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury and Granby.

 

Each map notes the various features that still remain or were once there (e.g., culverts, bridges, locks, etc.). The reverse side of each map provides a narrative about the need for the canal, the construction and financing of the canal, the challenges running the canal, and the reasons for its demise. Also included is a canal topic unique to each map: tolls, road and farm bridges, locks, waste weirs, canal boats, aqueducts, canal basins, culverts, dams, and feeders. Each map features 10 town-specific photos of the canal and its features, many of them taken in the 1930s.

 

Construction of the Farmington Canal began in 1825 and was completed to Westfield, Massachusetts in 1829; it was quite an undertaking considering all of the work was done by the labor of men and animals. In 1934, the canal was extended to Northampton, Massachusetts, though its opening was delayed until 1835 due to a water shortage. While the canal was closed most of the 1837 season due to winter storm damage, it was in operation with varying levels of success until it was abandoned in 1847. 

 

Maps will be available for sale at the Simsbury Free Library beginning June 9, 2016. Folded maps are $5.00 each, $40.00 for the set of nine maps. Flat maps are $10.00 each. Maps are also available for purchase online. See shipping costs below. Call (860) 408-1336 or email simsburyfreelibrary@gmail.com for information.


MAP SHIPPING COSTS
(add 6.25% tax on maps and shipping) 
   
MAP TYPE      QUANTITY
     SHIPPING
COST
Folded
(single maps)   
1-5
6-30
31-150
 $6.00
$7.00
$14.00
Folded Set
(One of each town)  
1-3 $7.00
Flat
(Single maps)
 1-10 $7.00

 

Just how interesting are the Farmington Canal Maps?..Ann Nyberg heard about them and interviewed Carl Walter for her show.  Click here to watch the interview.
 

 

BOOK OF WORLD WAR I LETTERS

WRITTEN BY SIMSBURY NATIVE

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much to Joe Hall (of Hall's Farm on Terry's Plain) for sharing his great uncle's World War I letters and allowing us to scan them.  If you are a Simsbury or WWI history buff, stop in and have a look at our book of 44 letters that George L. Hall sent home between August 11, 1917 and October 21, 1918. Sadly, George was killed in action on October 28th, 1918, just 2 weeks before the Germans surrendered.  

The letters are a great look at the life of a 20-21 year old soldier in World War I and there a number of Simsbury tidbits as well.  George mentions the other Simsbury boys he sees in France, asks his mother to send fruit cake, hard candies and American cigarettes and tobacco, mentions the Hartford Courant and the "Farmington Valley", talks about how he can't tell them much because of the censors (most of the letters have the censor's signature, and at least one letter has a word or phrase cut out), he asks his brother how the Simsbury football team is doing, and the Home Guard. 

We hope to have the letters available to view on our website in the near future. 

 
An Oral History with Thelma Hall
Thelma Hall

Interested in Simsbury's history? Our interview with Thelma Hall is now up on SCTV's website (simsburytv.org). Her daughter, Joanne Vanty, asked her questions about her nearly 90 years in Simsbury. Mrs. Hall has great memories of growing up in Simsbury: her father, the station master, walking to school in the snow and so much more. Check it out!  

Click here to see the interview.


 



 

PAST PROGRAMS

    

Did you know you can see some of our past programs on SCTV's website at simsburytv.org?  Click on any program on the right to view.