Danbury Music Center

View of Old Library at 254 Main Street; Source - Assessors
Historic/Common Name:
Old Library
Address:
254 Main Street
Town:
Danbury »
Year:
1876-78
Notes on Establishment:

Ordinance passed in January 2009

Historic Designation:
LHP, NR, SR
Property Authority:
Historic Properties Commission
Nature of Authority:
Regulatory
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
Yes
General description:

One of Danbury's richest and most visible engaging buildings, the old library retains so many of its attractive features that it has an exiting potential. The exterior of pressed brick is punctuated by polychromatic stone trim. The slate roof is broken by gables, in the form of a cross, while symmetry is offset bys a side entrance that repeats the gabled motif, with a carved floral finial surmounting each. Rhythm is created by gothic and segmented arches. The roof is supported by a truss of immense timbers running contrary to each other. An immense vaulted ceiling of ash, lighted by a large sky light in the middle and side windows decorated at one time with quaterfoils, creates a large and roomy interior space. Much of the original woodwork, like the book cases and the steam radiators are intact. Inside the building is equally impressive. The first floor contains which were at one time the Children's room. Murals painted by artist Charles Federer during the 1930s depict scenes from fairy tales on the walls. It is said that he used Danbury people for models. The magnificent second floor reading room is now the Marian Anderson Recital Hall for the Danbury Music Center.

Significance of the property:

Architecture, Historical: This Danbury architectural landmark was constructed between 1876-78 on a site donated by Alexander Moss White, a member of a prominent and wealthy hatting family, who had moved from Danbury to Brooklyn. His house, built in 1790, stood on the site and was serving as the town's library. White donated almost all of the $28000 needed to move his old house on to Library Place, which had been a cow path between the home lots of White and Alexander Wildman, to the north. Architect Lorenzo Wheeler, who had been raised in Danbury, was hired and designed a building of a design and creation of Danburians. The building served as a library until the present one was built in 1970. The downstairs rooms originally held the Selectman's office, commercial space and was later converted into the Children's Room. [2]

Relationship with the Surroundings:

The surrounding environment is commercial and high building density. The Old Library stands on the corner of Library Place, a harbinger of the architecturally imposing block that follows it to the south. It once formed a complimentary pair with the Danbury National Bank (248 Main Street) next door, until its gabled roof was lost in 1973. [2]It is bounded by Northerly- Library Place, Easterly- by Main Street, Westerly and Southerly- by other land of Grantor. [Historic property ordinance]

Features:

Building

Historic Use:
Old Library for City of Danbury
Present Use:
First Floor- Danbury Cultural Commission and Social Services; Danbury Music Center Offices; Second Floor- Music performances.
Architectural Style:

High Victorian Gothic (Approximate dimensions- 53 X 64)

Era:
19th Century
Ownership:
Public
Owner:
City of Danbury
Sources:

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.ci.danbury.ct.us/.
[2] Danbury Music Center, Weinstein Lauries and Sullivan Laura, Historic Resources Inventory, Building and Structures, 2006, SHPO library, Hartford.
[3] Historic Property Ordinance for the City of Danbury
Assessors information retrieved from the website www.visionappraisal.com.

Map:

Map of the historic property retrieved from the study report, SHPO library, Hartford.

View photo
Date of Compilation:
9/18/11
Compiler:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation