The history of the Rockville Public Library began in 1893 with the bequest of $10,000 from George Maxwell to the town for a free public library. Previously, private subscription library services, which charged a fee, existed in the area. The bequest was given with the provision that the town raised an equal amount in five years.
In 1893 the Rockville Public Library was incorporated and the Rockville Public Library Association was organized. The town appropriated the matching $10,000 in 1895, and the following year the library opened in the Hartford Connecticut Trust Company building on Elm Street.
The present building, constructed in 1904, was designed by Charles A. Platt of New York. It was a gift from Mr. Maxwell’s wife and children after his death. In addition to the building, the gift included funding to maintain and operate the facility. The majority of the library’s current operating budget continues to come from this source. The total cost for the lot, building, and furnishings was approximately $150,000. The library was dedicated and opened on June 29, 1904.
Three kinds of marble were used in the construction. The exterior of the building is white Vermont marble, featuring eight Ionic columns. The interior is Sienna marble and stained oak. The vestibule is lined with Formosa marble.
The frieze, or ornamental band, encircling the reading room contains the names of 26 great authors: Addison, Aeschylus, Browning, Bunyan, Burns, Byron, Chaucer, Dante, Dickens, Eliot, Emerson, Goethe, Hawthorne, Homer, Hugo, Jonson, Longfellow, Milton, Poe, Scott, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Stevenson, Tennyson, Thackeray, and Virgil.
The Latin inscription over the circulation desk, “Ex hoc fonte illa quae summa haurimus“, translates, “We draw the greatest things from this source.”
In 1967 the building was renovated and the children’s wing was added.
The adult department was renovated in 2002 to maximize available space and to allow for greater use of technological resources.
In 2013, an addition was built on the main building to provide handicapped accessibility, provide a teen area, and upgrade the technology to meet our community’s needs. The exterior of the building was preserved as inside walls and additional parking was added.