Holly Hill Book Shed Reopens after Pandemic Closure: “They want to know that there’s a new home.”

On Friday at the Holly Hill Resource Recovery facility, the book shed named after Doug Francefort, was officially reopened after being closed for over a year due to the pandemic.

First Selectman Fred Camillo and Superintendent of Holly Hill, Patrick Collins, both recalled how Mr. Francefort was a beloved volunteer at the facility.

Superintendent of Holly Hill Patrick Collins and First Selectman Fred Camillo for the even marking the reopening of the book shed named in honor of its founder Doug Francefort. July 16, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
Volunteer Sally Saunders decides where to shelve a book inside the book shed at Holly Hill. July 16, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

“Doug was a fixture here,” Camillo said. “I called him the Mayor of Holly Hill….You couldn’t leave here without talking to him. He was a straight shooter. He was not for much fanfare. But the name is perfect,” he added, with a nod to the shed’s new signage featuring Francefort’s name. “This will be a lasting memory, and it’s very fitting.”

The book shed has never looked so good. It has a new roof, fresh new red paint, some new paving in front, and new books of every genre.

Those in the know, are aware that Holly Hill, aka “the dump,” is a fun break for Greenwich residents who bring their recycling and trash there.

And now the facility has special bins for textile recycling and food scraps. And, of course, there is the Goodwill collection station at the entrance.

Candidates for public office are frequent guests at Holly Hill, and residents know it is one one of the best stops to chit chat and gossip.

New paint and signage at the book shed at Holly Hill, which is dedicated to Doug Francefort. July 16, 2021

Mr. Francefort started the book shed 37 years ago with his wife Eleanore. Several of his family members joined in to volunteer.

Sadly, Mr.Francefort died just before the pandemic, in January 2020.

Volunteer, Lorrie Stapleton said Mr. Francefort would have hated being shut down during the pandemic. (The book shed was closed from March 2020 until last weekend.)

Doug Francefort

“For his 90th birthday we had so much fun because we took pictures of everyone and everyone wrote a note, and we put a book together for him,” Stapleton said. “There were over 100 names.”

Stapleton kept a behind-the-scenes effort going while the shed was shut down during the pandemic. She collected and distributed books to deserving organizations in Greenwich and nearby.

On Friday the volunteers had three words about the book shed: “Lorrie, Lorrie, Lorrie,” they said in tandem.

“This is all Lorrie. She does all the work,” said volunteer Sally Saunders. “Lorrie goes middle of the week to all these places around Connecticut and drops off books for kids who don’t have them.”

Reflecting on the shut down of the book shed, Stapleton recalled, “We closed down pretty fast. You have to think that of the 250 people we get a day, most are seniors.”

So, she said behind the scenes, books were dropped off at the senior center.

And, she explained that while the book shed was closed during the pandemic, residents continued to drop off a huge number of books in the bins provided by Discovery Books.

Today, residents wanting to donate books, should bring them when the shed is open and manned with volunteers.

Alternately, when the book shed is closed, the Discovery Books bins will remain on site.

Stapleton said Greenwich residents are bibliophiles and are always pleased to know that when they’re finished reading, their books will go to a grateful reader.

“They want to know there’s a new life for their books,” she said. “The other day I talked to a person donating books. It was nice that I could say, ‘Everyone of your books just went to the Yearwood Center. (Boys & Girls Club of Stamford).”

She said that in addition to all the books in the shed, she brings books to the Greenwich Senior Center, Inspirica, Person-to-Person, Yearwood Center, CCI, CLC, and DOMUS.

Stapleton said the generosity of Greenwich residents is undiminished, and that with the shed reopened with an eager and enthusiastic team of volunteers, she expects the effort to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“We were redistributing 40,000 books a year, in addition to the books that pass through the book shed,” she said.

Volunteers Sally Saunders, Lorrie Stapleton and Janet MacKenzie at the book shed dedicated to Doug Francefort. July 16, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
Doug Francefort’s wife Eleanore who worked with him to create the book shed at Holly Hill 37 years ago, and their son Steven. July 16, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
Children’s books and puzzles at the book shed at Holly Hill. The Discovery Books bins will remain available to donate books while the shed is cloded. July 16, 2021

The book shed is open Fridays and Saturdays from 8:00am until 12:00 noon. Please do not leave books on the table when the shed is closed. When the shed is not open, place books in the blue Discover Books bins.

Coffee table books and collections outside the book shed at Holly Hill.

See also:

Doug Francefort, 91, Designed Book Swap at Holly Hill

Holly Hill Book Exchange Founder Doug Francefort to Celebrate 90th Birthday