Amos R. Eno

Both Simsbury natives, Amos R. Eno (1810 – 1898), a multimillionaire real estate investor in New York City, and his wife Lucy Jane Phelps Eno would spend their summers and holidays at their Simsbury residence, the remodeled Elisha Phelps’ House. In 1874, members of the Simsbury Book Club approached Mr. Eno to request funds towards a library for the town. Much to their surprise Mr. Eno generously gave $3,000 and the first official library of Simsbury opened that fall in the upper story of the village school house.

In 1887, Mr. Eno selected a building committee from the Simsbury Free Library’s original 10 members of the board of trustees which he had personally assigned with his initial donation. The building committee consisted of Mr. Ensign, Mr. Whitehead, and Mr. John B. McLean. They were entrusted with a plot of land 150’ x 100′ and additional funds to build and fund a library. Amos R. Eno’s total donation for the Simsbury Free Library came to $20,000. Hartford architect, Mr. M. H. Hapgood was hired to design and build the library.

Unable to attend the dedication of the Simsbury Free Library, Amos R. Eno’s letter was read by his son, William Phelps Eno. In it he wrote:

“This gift is due to the Town of Simsbury from me. . . . It was my fortune to be born here among you. Everyone owes something to his birthplace . . . . The boy who goes barefoot in youth seldom goes barefoot in old age. . . . . we boys of old Simsbury who have made, or will make our mark in the world, all know that self denial begets strength, and that he who has a high aim in life must labor to attain it. . . . The influences that surrounded my youth were owing to the excellent character of the people in this town.”1

He also communicated his fondness and respect for two people in particular that were responsible for his education, Moses Ensign, Esq. and Rev. Allen McLean. The Reverends son, J.B. McLean declared in his speech at the same event:

“The generosity of our esteemed and respected townsman has given us control of the valuable property . . . . What shall we do with them? . . . . May we prove that this is the best investment that Mr. Eno ever made.”2

The trustee’s response to Mr. Eno’s generous gift as published in the resolution passed at the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, Oct. 6, 1890 states:

“ . . . in our opinion no other form of gift could be more elevating and refining in its influence – so far reaching and permanent in its results, and we do believe that this library, founded by him, is and will be, a constant and powerful force for good in this community so long as time shall last, and men shall draw inspiration, wisdom, and strength from the knowledge and experience of the past.3

Amos R. Eno

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Simsbury Free Library • 749 Hopmeadow Street, P.O. Box 484 • Simsbury, CT 06070 • 860-408-1336