James Blackstone Library

by Peter Borgemeister

“Come back and sit down, Hammer; I’ll pay for the whole thing!” commanded Timothy Blackstone to Alfred Hammer, and the James Blackstone Memorial Library was born.

Until that day in 1890 or 1891, Branford did not have a permanent public library. John Carr, in his history of Branford written for the State’s 300th birthday, said that two libraries had been started, but they didn’t last.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Branford had grown to 5,ooo people, and the need for a public library in Branford became apparent. A committee was formed in 1890 to solicit funds. Chaired by the Reverend Melville K. Bailey of Trinity Church, it contained three other prominent Branford people; Dr. Charles W. Gaylord, Lester J. Nichols and Alfred Hammer, of M.I.F., out to Chicago to talk to Timothy Blackstone. Born in Branford, Blackstone had left for Chicago where he became an eminently successful railroad magnate, rising to the presidency of the Chicago and Alton Railroad.

Read more about the history here!