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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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