May 25, 2009
Turn-of-the-Century Structure Is National Historic Landmark
ORANGE, N.J. — The New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has announced its support of the restoration of the historic Orange Public Library at 348 Main St. in Orange, N.J., with a financial contribution. The contribution was made at a recent fund-raising event at which Samuel G. White, a great-grandson of architect Stanford White, was the keynote speaker. Stanford White was a partner in the firm of McKim, Mead and White, which designed the library in 1900. The firm was the most preeminent architectural firm of its day.
The building, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1981, is built in the Beaux-Arts and Classical Revival styles, compete with Ionic and Doric columns, and is richly ornamented with architectural detail. In recent years, however, it has fallen into disrepair, having been left virtually untouched since it was built in 1901.
The tiger oak woodwork, glass and mosaic flooring, coffered plaster ceilings and magnificent Tiffany glass rotunda all remain in their original condition. Moreover, upgrades are needed to provide for modern library technologies and services.
The library has received a $750,000 grant from the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund, but must raise an additional $750,000 in matching funds to implement the restoration program.
“One of AIA-NJ’s mission is to raise the public’s awareness of the state’s architectural heritage,” said Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, president of AIA-NJ. “The Orange Public Library is an architectural gem — one of the state’s finest examples of turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts architecture. We are delighted to contribute to the support of its restoration.”
In 2007, the Orange Public Library was included on the list of “New Jersey’s 150 Best Buildings and Places,” an initiative developed by AIA-NJ in celebration of AIA’s 150th anniversary. The New Jersey chapter spent seven months scouring the state for its best buildings, monuments and places to be included on the list.
The matching grant, which is part of a larger historic preservation, renovation and expansion capital campaign, will be used for the restoration of the library’s main level, while renovations will enhance the building’s security and increase the efficiency of the heating, cooling and lighting systems, according to the library.
Plans also call for a more prominent display area for the library’s significant local history and rare book collections and a 10,000-square-foot expansion on Essex Street, which will free space in the existing building for a computer training room, quiet study rooms, a young adult section and an expanded children’s department.
Those interested in making a donation should mail a check, payable to the Orange Public Library Foundation, to the Orange Public Library, 348 Main St. Orange, N.J. 07050. For more information, visit the library’s Web site at www.orangepl.org.
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