Keeping ‘Yalesville’ alive: Wallingford Historical Society purchases library building

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WALLINGFORD — The Wallingford Historical Society has purchased the Yalesville Library building and Bob Beaumont, the society’s first vice president, is hopeful it will help the group “keep the Yalesville name alive.” 

“Yalesville has had its own identity for decades upon decades and it really is a community within a community,” Beaumont said.

The historical society bought the building on Sept. 16, for $235,000. 

“We had the funds so we paid for it,” Beaumont said.

The Yalesville Library, a 1,862-square-foot building, originally opened in 1936 at its current location, 400 Church St. (Route 68).

An extension of the Wallingford Public Library, it closed at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jane Fisher, executive director of the Wallingford Public Library, said before it closed, the Yalesville building had limited hours.

It functioned as a place “for people to go in and borrow books from a small, really quite tiny, collection of books,” she said. “It did have two public access computers. It was used most often for people to pick up their reserved books that they had put on hold. People in that part of Wallingford and in the South Meriden community used it to pick up their holds.”

Fisher said the building was renovated a few years ago, but still didn’t draw the number of patrons library officials expected.

“We felt that it really wasn’t the best use of taxpayer resources to continue to operate the building,” Fisher said.

The building was put on the market in June, Fisher said, but there were restrictions as to what this site could be used for, which made finding a buyer challenging.

“It was used for library purposes, but the building could not be sold for commercial use,” Fisher said. “We knew it might be a challenge to find a buyer and we were just delighted when the Wallingford Historical Society decided to make an offer on the property so that they could continue to use the property to serve the Yalesville community.”


In March, the Record-Journal reported that the Yalesville library building was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not have a public restroom. Those are issues, among other things, the historical society will need to overcome.

“There’s a lot of things to look into,” Beaumont said. “The building itself is in decent shape. The library took care of it.”

Beaumont said the group will form a committee in the next few weeks to determine how the property will be used.

“We will use (the building) certainly to display Yalesville material that we have,” Beaumont said.

Shirley Lagerstrom, Wallingford Historical Society board member, said the organization is open to people donating materials on Yalesville’s history.

“I just think that probably (Yalesville residents) would like a little pride in their section of town,” Lagerstrom said.

A board member suggested using it as a research center, Beumont said.

Right now, he is working on fixing up the building, including lining the chimney.

“There’s some very minor things that overall need to be done to go ahead and take care of the building,” Beaumont said. “Right now, being a former library, it’s full of all sorts of bookshelves, some of which will remain in place ... some will certainly be removed. This is going to be up to the committee.”

Fisher said it was a hard decision to sell the building.

“It’s always a hard decision for a library to lose an outlet, to lose a site,” Fisher said. “But in this case, I think that because we have such a spectacular main library that offers all the modern conveniences of public libraries, people were just not using the Yalesville Library often as we thought they might.”

History of Yalesville

Yalesville, located in the northwest portion of town, was founded in 1677 and formally named in 1808.

“Yalesville is a vibrant community and has been a vibrant community for a long time and at one point, you go back since the 1700s, Yalesville was really pretty much the industrial center because they had like four different types of mills,” Beaumont said.

Charles Yale bought the mills, which were located in the area along the Quinnipiac River that is now home to Westbrook Lobster and other businesses. The purchase sparked the name “Yalesville.”

Yalesville “was quite the busy little area,” Beaumont said. Other manufacturing businesses in town moved there to take advantage of the water power provided by the river.

However, Beaumont said nowadays you do not see many buildings with the name “Yalesville.” In 2017, Yalesville Elementary School was renamed to honor the late, longtime state Rep. Mary G. Fritz.

“It’s been known as Yalesville for 200 years,” Beaumont said. “How much is left that says ‘Yalesville’? Not much.”

Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said Yalesville has been a prominent part of Wallingford’s history.

“It’s a significant geographical portion of the town so utilizing the building for display and as a resource for historical pursuits and investigations and the research, I think that should work out well,” Dickinson said.

Lagerstrom said the historical society is looking for more members, especially younger members and those from the Yalesville area. Meetings are held four times a year and the annual membership fee is $5.

“We are seeking new members from the Yalesville area, especially, but all over town, anybody who has an interest in the history of not only Wallingford, but the area,” Lagerstrom said.

jsimms@record-journal.com203-317-2279Twitter: @jessica_simms99


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