Library History

History of Ritter Public Library

In December of 1918, the Vermilion Village Board of Education appointed a library board of trustees. The newly appointed trustees immediately began putting aside monies toward a building fund.

By 1934, trustees felt they had sufficient funds to begin construction of a building. Actual construction began in January 1935 on Grand Street in downtown Vermilion. The library resided at that location until 1958. Until 1998, that building was home to the Vermilion Police Station.

In 1954, George Ritter contacted the board of trustees offering to purchase property and build what is now the current library, in memory of his parents. This building was formally opened to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 1958 and a formal dedication took place in May 1959.

In 1977, Mr. Ritter again contacted trustees expressing an interest in contributing funds for an addition. Construction of the new addition began in September 1982, adding about 5,000 square feet and creating a second entrance on the north side of the building on Ferry Street, which allowed for easier access for handicapped patrons.

Library History

By 1990, it became apparent the library had once again outgrown its space. The building was not wired for technology, nor was there a logical division of space for the different areas of the collection. Trustees and staff conducted a survey of current and future needs. It was determined the building could be expanded again, out to the property lines, and a partial basement could be added. After interviewing architects, trustees chose David Holzheimer Associates of Chagrin Falls to design the new facility.

Trustees now had to sell the project to the community and, for the first time since the library was established, two issues were put before the voters. One was a bond issue to build the facility and the second was an operating levy to help with the daily operations. In November 1992, both issues passed.

In October 1993, the whole library was moved to the old Valley View School and operated from that facility for one year. On November 6, 1994, the Ritter Public Library reopened to the public at 5680 Liberty Ave. With help from the Vermilion City Council, Washington Street to the west was closed and the trustees were able to purchase property to provide parking adjacent to the library.

In January 2002, trustees acquired property immediately east of the current building for future expansion. The property had been the site of the Dick Baker Dodge car dealership. The library began using the building there, which became known as the annex, to provide increased meeting room space for community groups.

After four years of increasing use, however, the annex was badly in need of repairs. Trustees had to decide if they should repair and remodel the old car dealership, or if it would be more cost-effective to raze the building and construct new space.

A professional, community-wide survey conducted in 2006 showed residents wanted more from their library – more meeting space, more public computers and more space for teens and other services. In November 2007, voters approved two issues. A new bond issue for new construction replaced the previous bond, which had been paid off early. And the library’s continuing operating levy was replaced, to be collected at current property values.

CBLH Design, a Cleveland architect firm, was chosen to design the addition, and the annex was demolished in December 2008. Construction of the new addition got underway in March 2009 and completion of the project was celebrated with a grand opening ceremony in March 2010.

The expansion added 18,000 square feet of new space, including a new Community Room and other meeting spaces; a 26-station computer lab; and expanded spaces for children, teens and adults.

Ritter became the first public library in Ohio to earn a gold award for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) when the U.S. Green Building Council recognized the many green designs in the building addition in 2011. The designs include a rain garden in the front yard and a green roof, a porous parking lot, a cistern, and energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems.


the new rain garden