Public Library

Project Summary

Connett Memorial Library - 59 Scotland Road 

What is this building and what is it used for?

This building is the original library, built in 1896, extended in 1930, and added to the Montrose Park Historic District National Register as a Key Building in 1997.  When the library required a larger space to meet community needs, the Village purchased additional land and built the current library building which opened in 1968.  The Connett building is still dedicated to library purposes and, since the 1980’s, has been used in part by Electronic Information and Education Service [EIES] of NJ with the mission to “…provide in an efficient manner, immediate, direct and convenient access to the printed word, to those individuals whose ability to read is severely impaired by a visual disability.”  

What’s happening here now?

The Connett Memorial Library had its slate roof completely replaced in 2016-2017 as an essential first step in protecting, rehabilitating, and, once again, extending library space to meet community needs and interests.  This project was completed by the Village of South Orange and supported by funding from the Essex County Recreation & Open Space Trust Fund 2014 Local Aid Program.

The Village was recently notice that it has been recommended for a $500,000 New Jersey Historic Trust Grant, which is awaiting legislative approval, to offset a significant portion of the cost of renovating the exterior of the building, including replacing all windows and doors and substantial, much needed masonry and brick repairs and replacements, which will complete the protection and securing of this important structure.

What happens next?

The Library Board has developed a vision for the future that recreates spaces with flexibility and sustainability so as to serve vital community needs for generations to come.  The planning process has included a town-wide survey and community meetings which identified a desire for a community meeting room, individual and small group rooms for meeting and study, space designed for more effective teen use of the library, and a greatly expanded Children’s Room.

The Library Board, in conjunction with the Village, secured a grant which allowed a thorough assessment of both library buildings and the development of a master plan.  The centerpiece of the architects’ plan is the unique opportunity to bring both library buildings together with a link that becomes a new and vibrant space itself- a place of comings and goings, of meetings and greetings, of access to all library spaces and services, of creativity and community.

What’s the back story of this building?

In November 1864, William Beebe, a merchant, invited some friends to his South Orange home to discuss the creation of a local library.  The idea was well-received and so the South Orange Library Association began.  In 1895, after moving locations several times, the Library Board looked to obtain a larger and more permanent space.  Eugene Connett offered his own land at Scotland Rd and Taylor Pl for a library provided that $7,500 could be raised to construct the building.  The money was raised and the South Orange Free Library opened to the public in 1896.  In the 1920’s, the Library Board recognized the need to extend the library due to increasing use and growing collections.  The addition at the back of the building, opened in 1930, doubled the size of library and included the first Children’s Room.

Schedule & Updates

TaskDate
Bid for Architectural Services 
Planning / Drawings 

Project Manager / Contact 

Salvatore Renda, Village Engineer
Engineering and Zoning Office
(973) 378-7715 Ext. 3990

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