• Home
  • Contact Us
  • My Account
  • Children
  • Teens
  • Catalog
  • Research
  • About

Library History: Bunker Hill Branch Library


The Bunker Hill Branch Library, the only remaining branch of the Silas Bronson Library, opened in 1962 in a custom-designed building on the corner of Bunker Hill Avenue and Aurora Street.

The City of Waterbury first started planning a library branch for the Bunker Hill neighborhood in 1956, along with a branch in the Bucks Hill neighborhood which was never created. At the time, the library had five branches: East End, North End, Waterville, Brooklyn, and Rose Hill (on Baldwin Street).

In 1960, the Bunker Hill Community Club advocated for the construction of a new branch in Bunker Hill, demonstrating their support for the proposal.


"The House on Poverty Hill"
Bunker Hill News, April 1960
Silas Bronson Library Archives


The corner lot at Bunker Hill Avenue and Aurora Street, where the branch library is now, previously contained a small red house built in 1774 for Elijah and Philene (Prichard) Richards. The house was later used as a school by Blessed Sacrament parish before Blessed Sacrament School was built.

The City of Waterbury initially planned to use the property for a playground for Bunker Hill School next door. The house was demolished in 1961 to make room instead for the library.


Reviewing the scale model of the new library
Bunker Hill News, September 1961
Silas Bronson Library Archives


Joseph Stein was hired as the architect for the Bunker Hill Branch Library. A scale model was presented in 1961, with the roof of the model being removable to show the interior of the proposed design.

The photograph on the left shows the model being viewed by Mayor Edward D. Bergin; Emelyn Trimble, head librarian; John T. Hutchinson, president of the library's Board of Agents; David Tully, member of the Board of Agents; Joseph Stein; and Stanley Abromaitis, president of the Bunker Hill Community Club.


Bunker Hill Branch Library
Waterbury Republican, December 4, 1961

Silas Bronson Library Archives


The new library was constructed by Claude L. Graham. The project moved quickly. Graham was awarded the project in August, 1961 and the wood frame, walls, roof, and windows were in place at the beginning of December, 1961. The first set of eight-foot-square plate glass windows had to be replaced before construction was completed after they were shot out by someone with a BB gun.


Emelyn Trimble and others at the
Dedication Ceremony, June 6, 1962

Silas Bronson Library Archives


Davis and Nye were awarded the contract for the new library's furniture in February, 1962. Joseph Stein reported in May, 1962, that the project was almost completed. The furniture was delivered and the landscaping was completed later in May.

The Bunker Hill Branch Library was opened on June 6, 1962. A  Dedication Ceremony was held at the library that evening. The new library was open five days a week, Monday through Friday, and was open until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In 1967, the hours were reduced because there weren't as many people visiting the branch.

Dedication Ceremony, June 6, 1962
Silas Bronson Library Archives


Virginia Shaw was the first librarian to run the Bunker Hill branch, assisted by Patricia Morse, Nancy Jane Hayden, Justine Nerrow, and Eileen Crues.

During the Dedication Ceremony, Virginia Shaw posed for the photo on the left, reading a book to Elizabeth Luddy with Mayor Bergin and librarian Ivy Lovering looking on.


The Bunker Hill Branch Library was plagued with problems during the late 1960s and 1970s, suffering more vandalism than any other library in Waterbury, with damage done to windows, doorknobs, and sidewalks. Books were stolen from the library and set on fire outside the building. Teens were repeatedly caught smoking pot in the bathroom. The problems were eventually resolved, and the library no longer struggles with these sorts of problems.

Jack Baldoni building the library's ramp
Sunday Republican, April 29, 1990

Silas Bronson Library Archive

The library became handicap-accessible in 1990 with the addition of a ramp and automatic doors. Two handicap parking spaces are located in the front of the library. A small parking lot for library patrons is in the back of the library on Aurora Street.

Today, the library features a collection of 11,200 books, movies, and music. A set of public computers allow patrons to search the internet, compose documents, and print files. Branch patrons can request material from the main library to be sent to Bunker Hill, giving them full access to the entire Silas Bronson Library collection.


Return to Library History