July 4, 2020

Celebrating the Official Start of Major Upgrades to the Old Lyme Library

Dignitaries at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library prepare to break ground at the ceremony. From left to right, Library Board member Michaelle Pearson, Library Board Immediate Past President Alan Poirier, Roger Smith, Library Board President Kirsten Sicuranza, Thomas Britt, and Library Board member & Renewal Project Committee Chairman Ken Biega. All photos by James Meehan except where indicated.

OLD LYME — On Nov. 21, Old Lyme-Phoebe Giffin Noyes Library representatives, local officials, and a host of community members gathered around an impressive griffin dirt sculpture carved out by local artist Kristen Thornton in front of the historic 1898 Library entrance to commemorate the beginning of construction.

Shovels at the ready.

The groundbreaking ceremony was emceed by Building Committee Chair Ken Biega. Board President Kirsten Sicuranza remarked on the importance of keeping the Library current and its role as Old Lyme’s vibrant cultural hub. Katie Huffman, the Library Director, spoke to the many people involved in the vision, planning and financing of project.

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) stands at front right of this gathering of local dignitaries, which includes Library Board Treasurer David Kelsey (third from left) and Library Board member Ned Perkins (second from right.)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) was on hand to talk about the importance of libraries and the value they bring to communities. Tim Griswold, Old Lyme’s First Selectman, concluded the ceremony by recalling important milestones in Phoebe’s history and the Ludington family’s role in her origins.

Pat Proctor (center) pictured with Library staff Katie Balocca (left) and Linda Alexander (right) where the tree once stood in the center garden. Picture provided by Library.

Many hands were busy at work in the weeks preceding the beginning of construction. On Nov. 1, members of the Garden Committee, with the help of Martin Griswold, transplanted the small maple tree located in the parking lot garden. This Cutleaf Japanese Maple was given by the Library’s Friends group in 2008 to honor a very special person—Pat Proctor, a longtime Chair of the Friends Council. Proctor was present to watch the tree be nestled into its new home on the front lawn and was thrilled the tree was receiving such good care.

The griffin sculpture carved out of dirt by local artist Kristen Thornton is clearly visible in the foreground of the photo, which shows those attending the groundbreaking ceremony gathering for its start.

Work on the renovations officially began Monday, Nov. 11. Workers demolished the Library’s parking lot and circle garden and began preparing the ground for an expanded lot featuring nine additional spots. A new garden will be located in the front of the Library; this garden will feature native plants and will be home to the commemorative pavers people are purchasing to support the Renewal Project. The Library has already sold over 150 pavers.

From left to right, Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) prepare to break ground at the ceremony.

To help encourage town-wide support for the project, the Kelsey Family along with Roger and Marcia Smith originally pledged an addition $40,000 to support the Library’s future if $200,000 was raised by Dec. 3. They recently extended their deadline to Dec. 31 — see note at foot of this article regarding how to purchase a paver.

On Nov. 14, Ms. Julie, the Children’s Librarian, took full advantage of all the construction activity and read books on bulldozers, front-end loaders and rollers. The children especially enjoyed their story-times that day, with the added bonuses of real live equipment noise in the background, which they listened to through the window (see photo above) followed by a viewing of the work in progress.

Work began on the Library’s interior Monday, Nov. 18. The first round of work will target the new staff offices, the second floor space, the historic 1898 Reading Room, and the BookCellar. This first phase of the work will continue through January, after which more dramatic changes will occur in the Children’s Room and Circulation Desk spaces. The Library will continue to remain open throughout the project, although services will be limited at times.

Asked how it felt to be finally starting the renovation project in the sense of “shovels in the ground,” Library Director Katie Huffman told LymeLine.com ebuliently, “After three years of planning, it’s so thrilling to see these changes finally taking place. We’re so pleased that the first item of business was one of our patrons’ most requested updates–more parking!”

From left to right, Claudia Condon, Joan Overfield, Kirsten Sicuranza, Lynn Fairfield-Sonn, Leslie Massa, and Mary Haymann prepare to break ground.

Editor’s Note: Complete details on how to purchase a paver or make a donation can be found at www.thanksphoebe.org. The pavers will always be available for purchase to celebrate family milestones, but purchasing a paver now has two added benefits for the Library as follows:
⦁ The purchase will be included in the renewal project campaign
⦁ If you give by Dec. 31, your gift can help the Library earn a generous financial match that the Kelsey and [Roger and Marcia] Smith families have put on the table as an incentive to help the Library reach their ambitious $200,000 goal.

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