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History of the Long Ridge Library


In 1914, two "high minded" ladies from New York City, Miss Marietta J. Tibbits and Mrs. Frances Olmstead Abbott, bought an abandoned house on Long Ridge Road, which ran through a rural agricultural community between West Redding and South Street in Danbury. The house, which had recently been used for storing onions, had belonged to Arthur Stuart, a descendant of Daniel Wood, and original settler in the area.


 While the women enjoyed their new community, they felt it would be enhanced by "encouraging friendship and neighborly interest and offering intellectual activities beyond the practicalities of life." Their first endeavor was to collaborate with women who lived along the road to form The Long Ridge Woman's Club. Meetings were to be held monthly, and their mission statement was "to have better acquaintance with neighbors and greater knowledge of our and other lands."


Records of club meetings exist in the form of "minute books." From these we learned that one such topic for study in 1916 was "Italy and the Country's Influence on Religion, Science, and Literature." By 1921, the subject matter had expanded to include, "The Elements of Parliamentary Law" and "The Duties and Privileges of the Woman Citizen and Much Needed Legislation."


In June of that year, and in a lighter vein, the subject for discussion was "Gypsy Life." That meeting was followed by a festive picnic outdoors on the lawn.


The group soon realized that they needed more space for their gatherings, as well as more space for shelves to house books on loan from the New York Public Library and the many books donated by friends. The volumes were then housed in the front parlor of members, including Mrs. Edgar Crofut.


The Danbury Public Library was hard to reach as the farm wives had led busy lives, automobiles were scarce, and the horses were needed on farms.


Help arrived in 1921, when Danbury voted to donate the abandoned Long Ridge School House to the club. The building was transferred to the Long Ridge Library Association, which had been established in 1919.


The structure was relocated down the road to land that was donated by Mrs. Kate White and her daughter Ida Barnum.


Gifts from friends and neighbors of money, materials, and services poured in. There were many helping hands. The men built shelves and moved books. Mrs. George Johnson, from West Redding, at her own expense, took a course in Library Management and became the first librarian. Bake sales were held to raise hard-earned dollars while the Town of Danbury appropriated $100 for maintenance. When expenses were paid, the library had a balance of seven cents.


In the 1920s and 1930s, as farm life grew less profitable, city residents, many of them writers and artists, discovered the unspoiled area. They bought farmhouses and old barns. They embraced the little library, women joined the Woman's Club, and many families opened their houses to offer lectures on literary and artistic subjects to benefit the library.


In 1986, the Woman's Club was dissolved since many of its members had begun to work outside the home. The library, however, continued to thrive with its book clubs, community meetings, and talks by local residents and visitors. Books, old favorites and popular new ones, have continued to attract adult readers.


Even though the Internet, with its access to instant information, has often replaced local libraries, children from the Long Ridge community can still walk to their library to find shelves of wonderful old books, like the Bobbsey Twins (written in 1900), Nurse Cherry Ames, and The Hardy Boys, books that have delighted young readers for more than a century.


Do let us continue to support this historic treasure that continues to give pleasure!

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