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Westport Philanthropists Give $1 Million To Library Transformation Work

Christian and Eva Trefz have donated $1 million to the Westport Library Transformation Project.
Christian and Eva Trefz have donated $1 million to the Westport Library Transformation Project. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport Library kicked off its community campaign to fund major renovations in style, announcing a $1 million gift from longtime supporters and Westport residents Eva and Christian Trefz.

Christian Trefz, who, with his brother Ernie, created a McDonald’s franchise empire that includes 45 locations in Connecticut and New York, said he appreciates the forward-thinking design of the $19.5 million library Transformation Project.

“We saw the plans for the project and were instantly inspired by the extraordinary flexibility, innovation and bold vision for the future evident in the design,” he said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to participate in this way and look forward to seeing the many ways the community benefits from this remarkable new library.”

In appreciation, the library will christen the new great hall, the center of the library plans, the Christian J. Trefz Forum. The Forum will support everyday library use for research, work and study, as well as a range of patron services. The space will also open up to seat up to 600 for large events and programs.

Construction on the new library layout will be done in phases over 18 to 21 months, allowing the library to stay open during work. The library broke ground on the project Sept. 14.

The new spaces will feature a larger MakerSpace, a recording studio, more conference rooms and co-working spaces and more traditional stacks on the lower level.

The town allocated $5 million toward the project and the library received another $1 million from the Connecticut State Library. The bulk of the funding will be raised through private donors, including members of the Cornerstone Society who have each given gifts of $250,000 or more.

In addition to the Trefzs, the society includes: Howard J. Aibel, the Nancy Jones Beard Foundation, Kathryn Frazer Brooks, the Estate of Patricia Lauber Frost, the Komansky Foundation, Inc., John Kossak and Evelyn Kranes Kossak, Paula and Tom McInerney, Frances and Alan Offenberg, Roz and Bud Siegel, the Estate of Jerry A. Tishman and the Michael M. Wiseman and Helen A. Garten Charitable Foundation, as well as several anonymous donors.

To date, the library has raised about $17 million.

“Chris and Eva’s astounding leadership gift to the library’s Transformation Project is an example of their extreme generosity and philanthropic hearts, and based on their good fortune and business acumen,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “We are beyond grateful for their profound support of this project.”

For project specifics, visit wltransformationproject.org .

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