Avon Library receives a Save America’s Treasures Grant, in the amount of $50,016

Left to right: Michael Howser and Greg Colatti, CT Digital Archive; Rob Berman, Avon Library Board member; Lisa Berman, Friends of the Avon Library President; Donna Gianini, Avon Library Board member; Joan Resikin, Vice President, Friends of the Avon Library; Tina Panik, Reference & Adult Services Manager, Avon Library; Heddy Panik, Avon Historical Society Board member and history room volunteer; CT U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal; Glenn Grube, Avon Library Director; State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw; Terri Wilson, Avon Historical Society President; Nora Howard, Town Historian; Brandon Robertson, Avon Town Manager; Barbara Ausiello, Avon Town Council.

Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw visited the Avon Free Public Library today (10/17/22) to congratulate them for their 2022 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Save America’s Treasures Grant. This grant, in the amount of $50,016, will cover a two year project, beginning in November 2022.  This award is part of $24.25 million in Save America’s Treasures grants to fund 80 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia.  Save America’s Treasures, funded through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), provided $356 million to more than 1,326 projects between 1999 and 2020. Requiring a dollar-for-dollar private match, these grants have leveraged more than $500 million in private investment and contributed more than 16,000 jobs to local and state economies. 

The Avon Free Public Library will use this federal grant to preserve and digitize objects relevant to the agrarian history of Avon. Their existing collection consists of 298 linear feet of historical material and includes cataloged books, as well a map cabinet with over 276 geographic maps. Nearly 20,000 items have been digitized for the CT Digital Archive .  This two year project will focus on digitizing collections of the Avon HIstorical Society from the National Register’s  Pine Grove Historic District consisting of four 19th-century farmsteads, a late 18th century house, and a restored Gothic Revival schoolhouse, and the separate National Register’s Avon Congregational Church, designed by local architect David Hoadley. 

This agrarian grouping is representative of Avon, Connecticut’s history, as reflected in the artifacts held within the archives, which contain ledgers, tools, clothing, household items, and photos from the Thompson and Woodford families who settled this area. The Woodford farm was established in 1666 and is one of the oldest farms still operating in Connecticut. Other names associated with Avon’s dairy, poultry, and tobacco farms were Alsop, Buckland, Colton, Delbon, Distin, Gold, Silver, Stone, Strong, Thompson, Watson, Westerman, and Viti.  

Farms, mills, blacksmith shops, taverns and dry goods stores began to punctuate Avon’s landscape during the mid 19th century. In the heart of this historic district is the Pine Grove Schoolhouse, built in 1865, which remained in use until 1949. The students and families from West Avon’s Pine Grove area comprise the majority of this project. Their photos, ledgers, journals, land deeds, books, household items, tools, and ephemera showcase the connections between residents and detail daily life during this era. 

 “The goal of this project is to connect all of the artifacts within our collection digitally, so that patrons and researchers can experience 24/7 access to Avon’s complete story as they explore life in the 19th century,” said Tina Panik, Project Director. 

The federal grant will expand the organization’s capacity by hiring an archivist to help assess, organize, store and digitize approximately 1,000 items from the Avon Historical Society’s collection, integrating access to materials within both the library and historical society’s collections.  

“These 1,000 items need professional archival assessment, storage, conservation, and digitization. These artifacts are temporarily housed in a climate controlled storage facility, as their home location, Schoolhouse #3, is in the process of a renovation, making this the perfect time to complete the work,” said Terri Wilson, Avon Historical Society President. 

Glenn Grube, Avon Library Director and Grant Administrator added, “The same dozen or so names populate our archives throughout the 1800-1900s, framing Avon as a New England town with a deeply interconnected social history.  Previously neglected from our archive projects, this segment of Avon’s history that incorporates the Pine Grove Historical District and Avon Congregational Church deserves our attention, preservation, and digitization focus.” 

Those interested in loaning items for scanning or donating items from the agrarian history of Avon to enhance the collections of the Avon Free Public Library or the Avon Historical Society can email historyroom@avonctlibrary.info for further instruction. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)  is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov 

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