Hotchkiss Library History
Our Origins, Our Present and Our Future
Maria Bissell Hotchkiss and Bruce Price will forever be a part of Sharon history and be a part of the Historic Town Green.
The former donated the library in 1893 and the latter was the prominent New York architect whom she chose to design the building.
The original Library opened to its members on September 13, 1893 with 2,640 books and now, after a massive weeding effort, has 14,000 items, including books, DVDs, VCRs and periodicals. And the current library is still not large enough to house even this smaller collection.
It is said that Maria Hotchkiss chose Bruce Price as the architect upon the recommendation of Timothy Dwight V, the President of Yale, where Bruce Price had built several buildings. Maria Hotchkiss’s involvement in all the details is most evidenced by the fact that she herself picked the stones that were used and actually rejected the first two samples that were submitted to her.
Bruce Price is most well known for his construction of the first 13 houses at the exclusive Tuxedo Park enclave, which was among the first gated communities in the United States. He also designed the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec and several of the Canadian Pacific hotels. Originally working in the shingle style, in his later years he embraced the Romanesque Revival style, popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson, which is why the style of the Hotchkiss Library is often referred to as Richardsonian. Incidentally he was also the father of Emily Post of Etiquette fame.
Maria Bissell Hotchkiss was the wife of the prominent local industrialist Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss, who had died in France, his new adopted home, in 1885 and she built the library in his memory. A fine bust of the great industrialist, carved by Moses Jacob Ezekiel in 1879 still presides over the patrons from its location on the balcony.