County: Essex County
The Caldwell Public Library is a 1917 Classical Revival Carnegie library, designed by architect and Caldwell resident Lynn Grover Lockward. It is one of four Carnegie libraries in Essex County still in its original building. Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded 2,509 libraries worldwide, including 1,679 libraries in 1,412 communities in the United States. From 1900 to 1923, Carnegie funded 36 libraries in New Jersey; 29 are still standing, including 20 still functioning as public libraries.
The Library is a 1 story, 3 bay brick building, and is distinguished by its temple-like austerity and diminutive size. The civic and formal appearance is reinforced by decoration derived from classical elements, including tri-partite vertical division with a projecting central bay, round arched multi-paned windows and a frieze parapet.
The Borough is planning to demolish the Caldwell Public Library and redevelop the area as part of a Municipal Complex to include Borough Hall, the police department, a community center, and a health and human services facility.
Caldwell Borough has a preservation ordinance, a historic preservation commission, and a historic preservation element in their master plan. Caldwell Borough’s only historic property recognized by the National and State Registers of Historic Places Listings is the Caldwell Presbyterian Church Manse, also known as Grover Cleveland’s birthplace. Two properties are locally designated historic sites- one being the Caldwell Public Library.
It is special for a town to have a Carnegie Library. The Library and its ability to tell the story of Caldwell and the legacy of Andrew Carnegie to future generations is irreplaceable. The building can be adaptively reused or at minimum the facade can be preserved and incorporated into the plans for the new building. Preservation New Jersey urges the Borough of Caldwell to reconsider their plans for demolition and adopt a policy of adaptive reuse for this landmark building.
Dr. Beverly Crifasi, Chair
Borough of Caldwell Historic Preservation Commission