By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
On Feb. 7, The Caldwell Public Library became a local historic landmark and was granted all of the protections of “historical” status.
The final passage was held at the Caldwell Town Council meeting at the Caldwell Municipal Building.
After pros and cons were discussed with the Board, the vote was unanimous according to library director Claudine Pascale.
She said she was surprised and pleased because this happened during their centennial year.
“It’s great timing,” she said. “It’s very special for us to have during our centennial year. And a beautiful library should be preserved.”
The official dedication is set to be held on Sun., April 30, with a plaque dedication put on the side of the building to let everyone know of the historical status.
“It’s a great way to recognize the history of the building,” said Pascale. “There’s a lot of history in the area. Grover Cleveland’s birth place is right across the street.”
Pascale, a Verona resident who has been with the Caldwell Public Library for a year and a half, hopes to engage the community in all celebrations. Later this year, the library staff will be burying a time capsule. And in June the library is hosting a birthday party for the library and residents of the West Essex area who are 90-years-old and up.
Each month they will also be holding local history lectures.
“We’re looking to celebrate the rich history of this area,” Pascale said. “Our local collection is open to the public. We’re having a lot more events, hoping people will come in and use this wonderful resource.”
According to Pascale, the library, which opened its doors in 1917 was one of 36 libraries in New Jersey that was built with funds from the Carnegie Foundation. Only 13 of those buildings still stand.
A grant was received from the Carnegie Foundation in 1907 and World War I began so the plans were temporarily put on hold.
While there’s always the possibility of the Caldwell Public Library becoming a “national” landmark, Pascale said, “At the moment, that’s not something we’re pursuing.”
During a Town Council meeting prior to the Caldwell Public Library becoming a local historic landmark, Historic Preservation Commission Chair Bob Kaplan stated that the commission gathered that three other local buildings in Caldwell are worthy of historical status: the National State Bank on the corner of Bloomfield and Central Avenues, a house at 73 Arlington Ave., and a house at 30 Smull Ave.; though the National State Bank building is at risk because it’s vacant and for sale, stated Kaplan.
The Caldwell Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees includes: Co-Presidents Susan Gartland and Michael Stewart; Treasurer Linda Havel; and members, Linda Stewart, William Downey, Paul Kotlewski, Maureen Mingle, Cathy McHugh, Dolores Strus, and Janet and Bob Markman.
For more information, visit the Caldwell Public Library website at: http://www.caldwellpl.org