BRIDGEPORT PUBLIC LIBRARY

The first public library in Bridgeport evolved from an idea by the Reverend David Evans, Jr., pastor of the Bridgeport Presbyterian Church. Reverend Evans started his efforts in late 1959 and succeeded in opening the first library in Bridgeport in February of 1961. Volunteers that helped open the library were Mrs. Barbara Halliday, Mrs. Hazel Castleberry, Mrs. Helen Bird and Mrs. Ethel Smith. The library was housed in the building above the old Hawkins Flower Shop at 1028 Halsell Street .

Books for the library were donated by Mrs. Smith and several of her friends. At the end of the first month over 60 books had been added to the library shelves. The library treasury contained $3.00.

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The library stayed above the flower shop for six months, then moved to a building owned by Mr. Gene Hembree on 13th Street . Mr. Hembree allowed the library to occupy space rent free. In 1963, Mr. Hembree purchased a new building on 10th Street and Cates Street . He moved his business and took the library along but charged the library a $20.00 monthly rental fee. By this time the library had accumulated over 1200 books. During this period of time volunteers were hard to come by and Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Smith had begun working at the Denton State School two days a week. Lack of help caused the library to be disbanded. More than 2000 books were donated to the Bridgeport Junior High School library and the 200 books borrowed from the state library system were returned. The first Bridgeport Library was now gone.

Through the efforts of Mrs. Mary Waters, president of the Amity Club, the public library was revived on 20 July 1964. A library organization was formed with Charter Members being; John Burt, president; Mrs. C.J.Waters, vice-president; Mrs. Bobby Hawkins, secretary; Mrs. V.E. Baldridge, treasurer; Mrs. Howard Jordan, head librarian; and Mrs. Dayton O'Neal, reporter. The Bridgeport Lions Club donated a room in their headquarters for the library. The Lions Club had purchased the old Methodist Church on the northeast corner of 11th Street and Cates Street for their headquarters.

Mrs. Mary Davis, Bridgeport High School Librarian, retired from her position at the high school and assisted Mrs. Waters in recovering the library books previously given to the school. These two women were instrumental in reorganizing the library. They received help from most of the city's civic groups. For several years the president of the Lions Club served as president of the library. Soon the library overflowed into a second room in the Lions Club building. At this time the City of Bridgeport agreed to pay the librarian, Mrs. Mary Davis, $1 an hour. Other money came from various clubs.

In the early 1970's, the library had accumulated between 5000-6000 books. In July of 1972, the library was organized into a City of Bridgeport municipal facility. A charter was drawn up and a seven-member board was appointed by the Bridgeport City Council.
The board set goals to become a part of the state library system. In 1973, Mrs. Mary Davis, librarian, estimated there were over 7000 volumes on the shelves. Officers at this time were; Mrs. Robert Eskew, president; Mrs.C.E. Howell, vice president; Mrs. Callie Butler,secretary and Mrs.C.J. Waters, finance chairman.

In 1974, the Lions Club sold their facility and announced plans for a new location. The library moved to temporary quarters in the Bridgeport City Hall .

In February of 1977, the library moved to its new home at 1107 8th Street . At this time the library had over 11,000 books, many of them purchased through the state library system. In 1987 the library received a $25,000 gift from the Jackson Trust Fund. The details of this gift is documented in an article that appeared in the Bridgeport Index and can be viewed by clicking on THE JACKSON FUND. This funding laid the ground work for a new updated library. Details of the planned library can be read by clicking on NEW LIBRARY.

The new library was opened in its present location at 2159 10th Street and HWY 380 in September of 1990.

To learn about the Bridgeport Public Library Services visit the library.
Memories from the Past
Mrs. Charles Howell (Left), vice president of the Library Board, presents two checks to the Board treasurer, Mrs.Don Stack. Mrs. T. O. Davis, librarian is looking on. April 23, 1971.

Head librarian, Pat Stegall has passed out award certificates to Pre-school Youngsters for participation in the libarary Story Time classes.. May 19, 1985
Parris Cobb, librarian, demonstrates a microfiche reader donated by Gary Swindell.. February 19, 1982
Mrs. T.;O.;Davis, librarian, accepts a check from Della Mann (Left) of the Bridgeport Civic Club. The presentation was made on April 13, 1978.

This is twelve of the thirty seven members of the Texas Summer Reading Club of Bridgeport. Certificates were awarded the members. The top reader was Amy Munn, top row , fourth from the right. Amy is the daughter of Billy & Shirley Munn. September 20, 1979
(Information on this page was supplied by Joann Pritchard, Shirley Munn, Donna Munn, Virginia Silver and the Bridgeport Index)
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