When local merchant William Beebe invited friends to his South Orange home to discuss the creation of a library, they listened. The year was 1864. After several moves, the Orange Library Association began looking for a larger, more permanent space to house the growing collection.
In 1890, South Orange resident Eugene Connett donated a parcel of land to the Village for the sole purpose of creating a public library, with the caveat that $7,500 be privately raised to fund the library. This amount was successfully raised, and construction began.
The South Orange Public Library—located at the corner of Taylor Place and Scotland Road—was completed in 1896, and expanded in 1930 to double its size and include a dedicated children’s room. Several decades later, when the library had again outgrown its space, the Village purchased additional land and built the current building, which opened in1968.
The Connett building was added to the Montrose Park Historic District National Register as a Key Building in 1997. It 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.”
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