The Windsor Public Library as it exists today evolved out of the various private lending libraries located in the town in the 19th century. The Windsor Library Company and the Windsor Athenaeum, both subscription-based, brought together interested parties who were able to pay for the privilege of reading up on and discussing the topics of the day. It wasn’t until December 12, 1882 that the Windsor Library Association was formed from the remnants of the previous library organizations, with the added generosity of local donors, including Charles Cotesworth Beaman of Cornish and William Maxwell Evarts, of Windsor. The new, free library was located in the New Town Hall on Court Street – now the American Legion Hall – and offered over 3,000 titles to the borrowing public. In 1886, the Association was incorporated and the name was changed to the Windsor Public Library, and a few years later the operation was moved from the New Town Hall to the Hiram Harlow House, where it remained until the current library building was constructed in 1902.
The permanent location for Windsor’s book collection was made possible by the generous donation of Benjamin F. Blood. His original $10,000 offer to build a library on the land next to the Harlow house was increased by $3,000, after consultation with the librarian, Rev. Edward N. Goddard. Architects Brite & Bacon, of New York City, were hired due to a favorable letter to the trustees from Maxwell Evarts.
The Georgian Revival structure, as designed, was opened to the public on June 4, 1904. The library building, on State Street in Windsor is one story, 60 by 28 feet, with an annex, 26 by 16 feet in the rear. The roof is the “finest Maine slate”; the foundation, Ascutney granite; the exterior walls are red brick and the base, cornices and all exterior trimmings, with quoins and dentils, are of Fitchburg granite. Two sets of elongated windows are on each side of the entrance in front, a portico with Doric columns, of the same granite. In the vestibule entrance, on the left, is a bronze relief of Mr. Blood, and a plaque bearing his birth date and place together with the following inscription:
This building was erected by Benjamin F. Blood, of Waltham, Massachusetts, A.D. 1903, and by him presented to the people of Windsor to be forever used as a public library. A former citizen of Windsor, by industry and ability, he accumulated a fortune, and this he dedicated to the best interests of the descendants of his early associates and providing for them church, school and library advantages.
Mr. Blood’s generous gift to the town of Windsor still stands majestically, though in need of repairs and more space, and is heavily used by citizens in and around Windsor.
For more important figures and moments in the history of our library, please see the publication Windsor Public Library: 100 Years of Knowledge and Enrichment, complied and edited by Susan Anthony and Jennifer Cary in 2004, from which this piece is excerpted.