POUND RIDGE You probably have driven past the Pound Ridge Public Library and seen the sign hundreds of times and given it little thought. The official name of the library is The Hiram Halle Memorial Library it is right there on the front of the building. But just who is Hiram Halle and why is the Pound Ridge library named after him?
Halle is probably Pound Ridges biggest benefactor. A successful businessman and inventor, he moved to Pound Ridge in 1929. According to the Jewish Historical Society of Lower Fairfield County, Halle bought a little schoolhouse building in 1939 in exchange for land that the Pound Ridge Elementary School now sits. In 1950, it became the home of the library when trustees of Halles estate donated it to the then newly established Pound Ridge Library Association.
By all accounts, Halle was a shy but generous man. He was part owner of the Gulf Oil Company and, in 1933, helped found the University in Exile at the New School for Social Research. The school helped rescue hundreds of Jewish scholars, academics and artists from Europe during the Holocaust.
Halle helped to bring European Jewish exiles to Pound Ridge and gave them work restoring vintage homes in the area. He purchased more than 30 houses, including a farm on Trinity Pass Road where he stored his renowned collection of American and English antiques. Thirteen of those homes are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Halle was well known for his philanthropy and helped struggling farmers in the Pound Ridge area throughout the Great Depression. His work and his patronage are considered key to helping to revitalize Pound Ridge and making it the thriving municipality that it is today.
So next time youre in the Pound Ridge Library, whether its to do some research, check out a book, or just to relax and read a magazine, offer a tip of the hat to Hiram Halle. He helped make that all possible.
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