Located on the corner of State and
Huntington Streets, the Public Library of New London was a gift from the
estate of Henry P. Haven, one of the city’s most successful
businessmen in the nineteenth century. He was a partner in a whaling
firm that operated 24 vessels. The company’s ships made 62 voyages
between 1838 and 1846. Haven also organized the Phoenix Guano Company,
shipping dried bird droppings from the Pacific Islands to Europe and the
American South. Guano contains nitrates essential in fertilizer
production. It was a very profitable trade in the period.
Public Library of New London, c. 1900
Built in 1889, the library was designed by the firm of Shepley, Coolidge, and Rutan, who worked in the Romanesque style popularized by H. H. Richardson. Many New London residents remembered young O’Neill leaving the library with stacks of books. Friends said that Eugene and "Hutch" Collins read "every serious book in the library" (Sheaffer-O’Neill Collection, Connecticut College).
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