06/2008: Preservation advocates for the Pease Memorial Library are unhappy with the Village Council’s acceptance of a $700,000 donation by a local philanthropist to repair and renovate the library building. The advocates believe that this contribution comes with too many stipulations. For example, the repair work does not entail adopting Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, and the donor will determine future tenants.
11/2009: The Pease Memorial Library has been rehabilitated. The Village of Ridgewood passed a resolution on November 4 authorizing the execution of a lease agreement for the building. Ridgewood Medical Media, LLC will enter into a five-year lease for a 3,207-square-foot portion of the building. Based on an agreement between the Bolger Foundation, the local philanthropist who financed the rehabilitation, and the Village, the Ridgewood Public Library, located at 125 N. Maple Ave., will receive most of the income generated from the leasing of the former library building. Ten percent of the income will be used for maintenance and upkeep of the building.
4/2010: The Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs has awarded the Pease Building rehabilitation one of their annual “Preservation Commendations” for 2010.
This stately Italian Renaissance-style library was built between 1921 and 1923. It is an excellent example of Palladian library design popular during the early 20th century. The funds for its construction were bequeathed by Gertrude Pease as a memorial to her father. She was the moving force behind a women’s group known as the “Village Improvement Association” that established Ridgewood’s first library in 1897, using donated books and rented rooms. According to the terms of the Pease bequest, the building was to be used as a library in perpetuity.
The Pease Library was Ridgewood’s main library until 1962, when the village opened a new library across town. For many years, the Pease Library served as a branch library, then briefly the central reference library while the main building was being expanded. When the main library reopened in 1998, the Pease Library was closed and the library board and village government successfully petitioned the court to void the deed restriction requiring that the building always be used as a library.
In 1999, the police department was temporarily moved to the Pease Library during repairs to the station house. But the police department soon will move back to its headquarters, and the future of the Pease Library is uncertain.
The local League of Women Voters chapter has asked the Village of Ridgewood to find a new use in accordance with the intent of Gertrude Pease’s will. There is a fear that the building will be demolished or inappropriately altered.
Ellie Gruber, League of Women Voters
Barbara O’Brien, League of Women Voters
201 444 4887