Renewed Wilton library to mark 100 years

WILTON – Officials of the Wilton Public-Gregg Free Library will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their newly renovated building with a rededication ceremony Saturday from 2-4 p.m., and everyone is invited.

The open house will include a re-enactment of parts of the speech delivered Sept. 22, 1908, by the library’s donor, David A. Gregg. Resident Michael Dell’Orto will impersonate Gregg. Other speakers will include Gerry Wroe, vice chairman of the library’s board of trustees; congressman Paul Hodes; State Librarian Michael York; and Richard Rockwood, chairman of the Wilton Board of Selectmen.

The program will conclude with the rededication of the library led by Wroe. A self-guided tour of the library will be offered with a detailed description of each of the rooms. There will also be refreshments and special musical performances.

The $1.2 million restoration and renovation plan began in 2000. A state Land and Community Heritage matching grant for $75,000 was received in 2001, allowing the mosaic floor in the rotunda to be restored. Fundraising began in earnest soon after.

The library had its heating, electrical and plumbing systems renovated and its windows upgraded. The addition of a limited-service elevator provides handicapped access to the children’s rooms in the basement level and the historical rooms on the upper floor.

The overall plan was designed by Peterborough architect Richard Monahon, who was presented the 2008 Honor Award for Restoration by the American Institute of Architects, New Hampshire Division, for his work on the library, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The west adult reading room on the main floor was completely restored and a kiosk-style office was added for librarians with a gift of $100,000 from Charles B. and Jean Wilson Sullivan in memory of their son Luther Gregg Sullivan, who died in 1987. Restoration included the removal of paint from the 1970s that covered the room’s murals and refinishing the floor, which had been hidden under linoleum.

The Greggs later provided funds for the restoration of the elaborate front entryway. The east reading room, now named the McLean Room, was refurbished using a gift of $60,000 from the McLean Contributorship, publishers of The Telegraph.

The town of Wilton contributed $130,000 over several years.

Other donors included the Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Foundation and many local residents and companies, who gave both large and small gifts.

The library, often called “The Jewel of Wilton,” was the gift of David A. Gregg, at an original cost of $100,000. It was built by the Boston firm Mclean and Wright. The building features seven types of rare hardwoods, Grueby tile fireplaces and murals on many walls. The rotunda includes a marble mosaic floor and a Tiffany glass oculus.

Refreshments for the celebration will be provided by the Friends of the Library, Market Basket, Shaw’s Supermarket and Stop & Shop, all of Milford, and Wal-Mart Superstore.

Music and sound system will be provided by Dennis Markaverich of the Town Hall Theater.

The library trustees are Olga Brigham, Mary Ellen Brookes, Ronald Brown, Hale Levine, Sandy Perfito, Gerry Wroe and Stanley Young.