With libraries in many parts of the country curtailing hours
and closing branches, what a joy to see a neighborhood branch
in Hartford expand. After a little more than a year of work,
the Goodwin Memorial Branch of Hartford Public Library at
460 New Britain Ave. is entering the final stages of a $2.3 million renovation
and will reopen soon.
Following the lead of the main
library, the Goodwin outpost is retooling itself to stay useful
to an increasingly diverse clientele. In this case, more is
more. More books, more computers, a more updated mechanical
system, more homework help, more activities for families and
more space for community meetings. And, of course, more parking
spaces. While the larger parking lot has displaced some green
space, it seems a necessary evil.
Despite the large, somewhat boxy addition to the east, the
building's front rightly remains the visual focal point:
the formal Greek Revival pediment has been sanded and restored,
and the arched Palladian window above the door is as graceful
as ever. The original strip of grey cement with the branch's
name engraved in it girdles the façade, offering a
nice horizontal counterpoint to the arches and triangles.
Finally, despite an additional
4,500 square feet, the branch still feels intimate, a tribute
to the architects, Fletcher, Harkness Cohen & Moneyhun
of Cambridge and Sevigny Architects LLC of Hartford. The
building hunkers down nicely at the foot of Coolidge Street,
remaining, in this residential section of town, the best
kind of neighbor: helpful, smart and unobtrusive.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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