Westport Celebrates: Transformation Complete, Library Opens!

If you want to know what kind of town Westport is, consider this:

On a Sunday morning — the most beautiful day of summer (so far) — 1,000 or so men, women and kids turned out to celebrate the re-opening of our library.

Plus this: The multi-year project came in on time.

And within budget.

A large crowd waited for the opening ceremony.

There were brief speeches by Governor Ned Lamont and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

Governor Ned Lamont — whose family endowed a library at Harvard University — talks about their importance.

A band played. Dozens of kids jumped in for the ribbon-cutting.

Kids celebrate, moments after 1st Selectman Jim Marpe cut the ribbon.

Then everyone clambered up the very new stairs, to the great new entrance. As Marpe noted, the library — originally a gift from Morris Jesup — now embraces Jesup Green, named for the founder’s family.

A brass band plays, as the crowd streams up the steps.

It’s a spectacular building we can all be proud of. It will evolve and be used in ways we have not yet even imagined.

Within minutes of the opening, the grandstand was packed.

Today was a great day for Westport. If you haven’t seen it yet: The festivities continue until 4 p.m.

To all who made today possible — especially our amazing library director Bill Harmer — thank you!

Music on the main stage, dance, podcasts, educational sessions, even composting and bees — it’s all on, all afternoon at the new library, until 4 pm. (All photos/Dan Woog)

21 responses to “Westport Celebrates: Transformation Complete, Library Opens!

  1. Rozanne Gates

    World Class!

  2. I ❤️ Westport!! 👏👏👏

  3. Tom Duquette SHS '75

    Guess the ceramic tile mural is still in storage.

    • Amy Schneider

      I guess it’s with the books. I haven’t seen any books in the grand opening photos.

      • Amy — the books are on the lower level.

      • Plenty of books, Amy. They’re downstairs. That section has been open throughout the transformation.

        • Marcia Falk

          The River of Names is alive and fully restored in 21c electronic fashion. It is located on the second floor in a computer screen monitor and tells the complete history of the project and describes each and every tile donated to the library and their donors. Just like the WPL, it is has been reinvented without compromising its importance and meaning by the design team of Michael and Lynn Budd.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Hmmmh, any news on the new library in Bridgeport?

  5. The Library is very impressive, but it’s missing something very important — the River of Names. I’m sure if they work on it, they can find a solution to this problem that will satisfy everyone.

  6. Karen Abramson

    The library is lovely but the River of Names is not there! Sorry folks, no one is going to look at it electronically. We were sold a bill of goods.

  7. Valerie Smith-Malin

    I agree. I thought the tiles were going to be reinstalled? I am frustrated that the mural, which is an art installation, isn’t being treated with the respect that it, its donors, and town residents deserve. Snapshots displayed on a computer screen are not comparable to art viewed in real life. If they were, people wouldn’t bother going to the Met. Moreover, with the current computer attempt, you can’t see the mural in its entirety or see the effect of a “river”. The tile mural needs to be reinstalled.

    Separately, I hope MakerSpace moves to a more inviting location. Its prominence in the original library inspired and attracted a lot of people, especially tech-oriented kids.

  8. Holly Hightower

    This looks like a great grand opening for the updated library. So much to celebrate in Westport!
    I am disappointed that the river of names has not yet been displayed – it is a testament to the history and dedication of the people of the town. It is beautiful artwork too. I continue to be surprised that the transformed library has not established a place to honor the donors from donations past. The 1986 legacy wall of donors who built the original “new” library (when it moved to its current site) and then the later ceramic tiles who enabled continued the expansion of the Westport Public Library setting the stage for this latest transformation. I continue to look forward to hearing a commitment from the WPL team and leaders that the ceramic tiles are to be displayed in the library.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Holly, rumor has it that the “River of Names” will find a home in the new “Rest Rooms of Compo.” A bi-partisan committee has been formed to select the grout color. The Republicans have proposed Confederate Gray and the Democrats favor Privilege White which appears to be leading in the polls.

  9. Susan Lloyd

    If the The River of Names had been a priority, the Library probably would have made a space for it. It is a shame, in a town that once prided itself on being an Artistic community, that a piece like the tile wall has been relegated to a computer moment. I am sorry people will not be able to experience it as it was originally intended

  10. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    You have to hand it to Ned Lamont. He knows where the money is and where the Starbucks are. Two visits to Westport in two months just to get a venti mocha latte and check out the softness and absorbency of the toilet paper in the head. “What do the simple folks do???”

  11. William Strittmatter

    River of Names. Hmmm…..

    As I recall, where the 06880 discussion on this last ended, the Library had a place to reinstall the physical River of Names however the original 3 organizers declined to let them reinstall it where proposed, instead suggesting either a fundamental redesign of the newly refurbished building or other wholly impractical solution (mount on wheels like a railroad car and roll it around).

    I gather from its absence, the organizers have been steadfast in their rejection of the library’s proposed location so I guess we know who is responsible for its current absence.

    I’m curious though now that the library has reopened whether anyone can suggest an alternative (and realistic/practical) location to reinstall it versus where the library proposed.

    • William Strittmatter

      As you scout alternative locations in the new library, here are a few things to keep in mind:

      The mural itself is 6’2” tall by 26’4” long. To properly set if off, you would probably want an 8’-10’ high wall at least 30’ long though maybe the 26’4” would be adequate.

      The original sponsors would like it “illuminated by natural light”.

      Due to weight, I’m guessing it would need to be on the first floor unless a higher floor location happens to already have the required structural support.

      Dan – maybe you can make this a contest.

  12. Sherry Jagerson

    AND French horn😄

    Sent from my iPhone