Archive for March 11th, 2011

March 11, 2011

Summit Free Public Library

Summit Free Public Library: The current iteration

This is the current library in Summit! (Click here to see it in Google Street View!)

Here was the first one, from 1891-1911:
Summit's first library

Here was the second one, from 1911-1964:
Summit's second library

And the third one, from 1964-present, is the feature photo up top.

The first library has been used as the Summit Playhouse ever since 1911, but the second library had to be demolished.

It’s actually a pretty interesting story, and I can’t phrase it better than this author:

For a month or so in January 1964, Summit had two library buildings, scarcely 10 feet apart, for the present library building was erected behind and to the right of the one shown here before the latter was razed to make space for the present courtyard and walks. The transition took place during the weeks of January 9-24, 1964, when a chute was built and the cartons of books literally slid from one building to the other.

The old building, which dated from 1911, died hard. Sentimentalists were reluctant to surrender the familiar yellow brick structure to the much-needed modern building, which was finally obtained by the Committee for a New Library after a protracted period of campaigning and fund raising.

The library building shown was referred to by many as the ‘Carnegie’ library, for it was paid for by a $21,000 grant obtained from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation by William Lyall of Summit, whose son, Earl Harvey Lyall, designed it.

I love the mental image of books sliding from window to window!


Vintage photo and information from:

The Summit Historical Society. (1978). Glimpses into Summit’s past: A selection of photographs and texts tracing the city’s growth. Benway, Maxwell & Smith: Chatham, NJ. 65.

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