Mt. Holly Library - Mt. Holly, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 59.967 W 074° 47.418
18S E 517900 N 4427717
Quick Description: A library in a mansion? You betcha! This beautiful, spacious and very authentic, early 19th century mansion is home to a very quaint, old style library. Feel free to tour the mansion up to the second floor.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 6/30/2012 2:31:54 PM
Waymark Code: WMER6Y
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member xptwo
Views: 4

Long Description:

Small town charm and historic building equals a terrific visit to this historic district. I visited this library to retrieve the 39 narratives for this historic district and was instead greeted with a self-guided tour of one of the best intact examples of Georgian architecture I have come across. The library moved in 1957 or thereabouts and has made great use of it without compromising the architectural integrity of the building, thus, it being a contributing structure to the historic district.

I was struck by the various examples of stained glass I found throughout, especially the half circle, stained glass over the front door. The mansion and library have a long and storied history which I relied upon the library website to tell: In 1829, James Langstaff began construction on his home, which he called "Langleland," a Welsh term meaning "a foot of high ground." The house was designed in an elegant Georgian fashion.

The mansion was "L" shaped, with a foyer separating the four main rooms, each having a fireplace made of Prussian blue marble. Two antique chandeliers, one brass and the other silver, each covered with more than 2000 crystal baubles and drops, hang in the two main rooms. A large kitchen was located in the back with a summer kitchen located behind it (now used as the Library Office).

The mansion was built with random-width North Carolina yellow pine floor boards, put together with handmade nails. (The Friends of the Library donated carpeting to prevent further wear to the boards.) Wide pine boards were used in the ornate baseboards and door frames throughout the house. The outside walls are made of brick, covered with a pale yellow stucco. Over the front entry are hand-painted glass panels.

When the property was purchased by the Mount Holly Library in 1957, some renovation was necessary to convert this private residence into a public building. In order to preserve the 19th century charm of the buildings and grounds, the library only made those alterations necessary to accommodate books and materials and to increase lighting facilities. With its duty to provide modern library service to the public, alterations will continue to be made. The goal remains to achieve a balance between modern day needs and elegant old world atmosphere.

The Mount Holly Library, originally known as The Bridgetown Library, was chartered on June 11, 1765 by His Majesty George III of England, through William Franklin, then Governor-General of New Jersey. Bridgetown was the original name of Mount Holly, so named because of the many bridges crossing the Rancocas Creek. The library is the fifth oldest in the state.

In 1860 the Library was officially renamed The Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences. A membership group of 26 men each paid $5 for a share of stock and annual dues of $1. The purpose of this society was to pursue the study of state history and to cultivate the natural sciences.

Sixteen years later, in 1876, the Lyceum established a circulating library open to the public for a fee. In 1882 the Lyceum received an endowment from the estate of Nathan Dunn, a Mount Holly resident. This included his private library and a sum of $10,600. The Dunn Collection is part of the Lyceum Collection today.

In 1921 the Lyceum joined the newly formed County Library System and became a free lending library open to the residents of Mount Holly. A fundraising campaign was launched in 1957 to purchase the Langstaff Mansion at 307 High Street for the Library's permanent home. The Board of Trustees of the Lyceum manages the operation of the Mount Holly Library. The Library currently receives funding from municipal aid, public contributions, and fundraisers. SOURCE

Naturally, a building this old and unique is also a contributing structure to the Mount Holly Historic District. In my never ending quest to document all things contributing, I visited this library (as already mentioned) to retrieve the nomination form and narratives for the historic district. The reference desk rewarded me with a very old packet from 1969. Despite what on-line sources would have you believe, there are actually 39 contributing structures and not 36.

From the Nomination Form:
24. JAMES LANGSTAFF MANSION (LANGLELAND) ....1832 ....307 High Street
Two and one-half story L-shaped center hall house; foundation of stone with brick top; walls brick covered with simulated regular ashlar stone stucco; one bay entrance porch with Ionic columns; four inside and chimneys; double door entrance with wood paneled doors (upper now glass); windows 6/6 with inside paneled shutters; bulkhead cellar entrance; hip roof with cupola, square in plan; box cornice with dentils. This building is a superb example of Georgian architecture. Designed by the famous Samuel Rush, this building is in near original condition. The garden is noted for the superb growth of boxwood

There is also the traditional prefab historical marker attached to the house. Homeowners who demonstrate their houses are historical or old or whatever, can contact the local DAR chapter to outfit their houses with one of these historical signs. Neighboring historic districts such as Haddonfield, Moorestown, Pemberton & Mt. Laurel have likewise dotted their historical landscape with the same markers. This marker reads:

James Langstaff


Purchased by Mount Holly Library - 1957
Chartered by King George III - 1765

Col. Thomas A. Reynolds Chapter - NSDAR

Classification of Library: Public Library (Open to all)

Internet access available: Yes - Your Laptop: Free

Hours of Operation:
Library Hours Mon.-Tues. 10-7 P.M. Wed.-Fri. 10-6 P.M. Saturday 10-2 P.M. Sun: Closed

Approximate date of opening.: 1/1/1957

Library Website: [Web Link]

Additional Internet Connection Options: Not listed

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