Tuesday, August, 15 2017

Norman and Gillian Hall Community Room Dedication

Middletown Library honors Norman and Gillian Hall and says “Thank You” for their contributions to the Library and the Town of Middletown!

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When one looks at the history of the library, director Theresa Coish said, it’s hard to miss the contributions the Halls have made. They represent the best of Middletown, she said.

“It was important for the library and the rest of the town to recognize all that Norman and Gillian have done for the community,” Coish said. “No matter who you talk to you’ll hear about how they worked for the town and all it meant to them.”

“Norman and his wife mean more to Middletown than they probably ever knew,” added Town Councilwoman M. Theresa Santos, who also serves as treasurer of the Middletown Historical Society. “They were involved in everything in town and it’s always important to say ‘Thank you!,’ even though the recognition was never the reason they did what they did.”

In an attempt to update the library building — once home to the Navy Anchorage Day Care Center before it was taken over by the town — voters approved a $1 million bond in November 2002. Approximately $500,000 was raised through grants and the Friends of the Middletown Public Library to augment the effort.

The meeting room was part of a 3,000-square-foot addition. It is used for everything from library programs like magic shows and adult learning classes to community forums, book lectures and other events.

The Halls were actively involved in moving the Middletown Free Library from its old location next door to the Oliphant administration building, Coish and Santos said. The former library now is used as the headquarters for the School Department’s maintenance staff.

Norman Hall worked at the Navy base and learned the Navy was freeing up the old day care center on West Main Road, Coish and Santos said. He was instrumental in helping the town secure the property, they said, and the agreement was completed in July 1973. A photograph including including Hall and then-Town Council President Robert M. Silva, a prominent local attorney, appeared in The Newport Daily News at the time.

The Halls went on to found the Friends of the Middletown Public Library, created to help fund library functions and activities. The group’s work continues to this day.
In addition, the couple was active with the Middletown Historical Society, helping it secure the old Boyd’s Wind Grist Mill and move it to its current location in Paradise Park at the corner of Prospect and Paradise avenues.

The Halls also worked closely with the Linden-Anchorage Parent Teacher Association, the Sachuest Council of Parents and Teachers, the Sachuest Scholarship Fund, Middletown Cub Scout Pack 11, Middletown Little League and the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

Norman Hall died on Dec. 30, 2012, surrounded by his family. Gillian Hall lives in town and remains active with the Friends of the Middletown Public Library and other organizations.

“There are so many volunteers who work on the town’s behalf, and the Halls are just one example of that,” Coish said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone has a full appreciation for the work they do to help the town, giving up time in their personal lives and with their families to serve the place they live.”

“The Halls are outstanding examples of the hard work that happens every day in Middletown by our volunteers,” Santos said. “It’s nice to honor a couple who did so much for the town without really ever having any expectation of any recognition.”