Cossitt Library is national historic treasure

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Cossitt Library. Submitted photo

The Frederick H. Cossitt Library is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the library will be doing a series of articles to help Granby residents understand why this is important and how it works.

The National Register is the official list of the U.S. federal government’s districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. The passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 established the National Register and the process by which properties can be added to it. Of the more than one and a half million properties on the National Register, over 95,000 are listed as individual properties. The remainder are contributing resources within historic districts.

For most of its history, the National Register has been administered by the National Park Service, an agency within the Department of the Interior. Its goals are to help property owners and interest groups, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, identify and protect historic sites in the United States.

While National Register listings are mostly symbolic, their recognition of significance may provide some financial incentive to owners of listed buildings since protection of these properties is not guaranteed. During the nomination process, the property is evaluated in terms of four criteria for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The application of those criteria has been the subject of criticism by academics of history, preservationists, as well as politicians.

National Historic Register plaque affixed to Cossitt Library. Submitted photo

For a property to be eligible for the National Register, it must meet at least one of the four National Register main criteria. Information about architectural styles, association with various aspects of social history and commerce and ownership are all important parts of the nomination. Each nomination contains a narrative that provides a detailed physical description of the property and justifies why it is significant historically with regard either to local, state or national history. The four National Register of Historic Places criteria are:

Criterion A: “Event”, the property must make a contribution to the major event in American history.

Criterion B: “Person”, is or was associated with significant people in America’s past.

Criterion C: “Design/Construction”, concerns the distinctive characteristics of the building by its architecture and construction, including having great artistic value or being the work of a master artisan.

Criterion D: “Information potential”, is satisfied if the property has yielded or may be likely to yield information important to prehistory or history.

When Cossitt library was approved for the National Registry on June 22, 1988, the following three reasons were cited as its qualifier:

The Frederick H. Cossitt Library in North Granby, Connecticut, is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, the building is an unusual and extremely well-preserved example of Queen Anne architecture (Criterion C). Secondly, the first librarian, and the driving force behind the establishment of this library, was George Seymour Godard, a well-known Librarian of the State of Connecticut between 1900 and his death in 1936 (Criterion B). Thirdly, the library has played an important cultural role in its community and is a symbol of local philanthropy (Criterion D).

The next article in this series will address the difference between the National Register and the State Register of Historic Places.