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 Spring Lake Public Library
During the summer of 1919, Mrs. Samuel (Adelaide) Heilner saw the need for a public library in Spring Lake. She placed an advertisement in the Spring Lake Gazette requesting books and donations. She asked Mrs. Joseph H. (Sara) Height, who was the first president of the Woman's Club of Spring Lake to help her in receiving and recording the gifts of books. They also sent flyers to all cottages of the borough, and hundreds of books and several checks were received.
 
doorBW  In the fall of 1919 the project was turned over to the Women's Club, and the Library Committee was appointed. The    committee included Mrs. Heilner, Mres. Height, Mr.s H. (Elisnor) Moore, Mrs.C.D. Nesbitt, Mrs. H. Getsinger, Mrs. F.F. Schock, Mrs. Laura Moses, Mrs. H.B Tobin, Mrs. Robert W. Steele and Mrs. Sarah Hillaman.

 The first meeting of this committee was held at "Seawood", the home of Mrs. Heilner, on September 12 to discuss a possible location for the library. (The Women's Club had also been searching for a meeting place.). This problem was happily resolved just a few days later during a Welcome Home Day held in honor of the 58 soldiers and sailors from Spring Lake who served in World War I. After a parade, which ended at the Casino (now the Spring Lake Bath and Tennis Club), one of the speakers, Rev. B. C. Lippincott of St. Andrews Church, announced that Mayor O. H. Brown would donate a triangular plot of ground bounded by Brighton, Third and Madison Avenues and $100,000 towards the erection of a Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, which would be in the form of a Community House for the use of the townspeople. Brown was a successful shore area businessman with interests in furniture stores, hotels and real estate. He served in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate and was mayor of Spring Lake for 32 years. The Langhorne Cottage already on the site, was placed at the disposal of the Women's Club to be used as its headquarters and also used for a library and reading room.

A second meeting was held on September 29th and a third meeting on October 4th. At the later meeting, the committee was enlarged to include Mayor O. H. Brown, Mr Samuel Heilner, Professor H.W. Mountz, Dr. D.H. Hills, Mr. T. H. Bennett, Mr. W. McKeever and DR. M.F. Kirkbride. The Woman's Club continued to collect books to add to those already received by Mrs. Heilner and Mrs. Height.

By November 3rd, the club had collected more then 2,000 books. They hired a librarian, Miss Florence Miller, and a janitor. Although without formal librarian training, Miss Miller had been recommended by Mr. Mounz and was a former student of his. Her original salary was 30 cents an hour, paid for by a friend of Mrs. Heilner. The Woman's Club also purchashed bookshelves and tables, and the winter's supply of coal was donated by Mr. Samuel Heilner. The library was ready to open to the public on November 11th in the Langhorne Cottage. The original committee of the Woman's Club and the Men's Committee were dissolved, and a formal presentation of the library to the Borough took place on November 14th which was also the first anniversary of the orginization of the Woman's Club.

A board of seven trustees was appointed by Mayor O.H. Brown. By law, the Mayor and the school principal, H.W. Mountz, were mandated as members. Mr. Brown served as president and Mr. Mountz was the Secretary-Treasurer. 
 
The Library remained in the Langhorne Cottage throughout that winter. The following April it was temporarily moved to the Council Room in the Old Municipal Building on Washington Avenue. Only enough books were purchased to satisfy the immediate demand, as every inch of shelf was occupied and every available spot was filled with boxes of books that had been donated with no room to unpack and place them.
As the new Building neared completion and the weather became sufficiently warm so that the building might be safely used without the expense of heating, it was decided by the Board of Trustees to move the Library during the week of June 11th to June 16th. The Library would be closed during this period. A few cases of books were packed, but it was soon found that it would be quite impossible to get enough boxes  to hold this large number of books; that there was no room in which to pack and place the boxes that were already there and that it was very hard work.
 
The distance between the two buildings was so short that it was jokingly remarked by one of the committee members that they should borrow a small express wagon and take a load of books with them each time they passed the new library. This suggested a plan, and the services of a capable and careful gentleman, James Saulter, were secured at a cost of 50 cents an hour. A push-cart was borrowed from the Janitor, Andrew Gazda, and in a very quiet and orderly manner the books were removed from one case or section, placed carefully in the cart, pushed over to the new room and placed in their respective sections. This method eliminated all the work of packing and unpacking innumerable boxes and the inevitable confusion resulting from the same.
 
The moving was begun on June 7th, and the library simply rolled from one building to the other in the most magical way. On June 11,1923, the library opened to the public in its new and final quarters in the Memorial Community House.
 
Over the years the library has instituted programs such as a children's story hour, a summer reading club, and a Writer's Read to encourage new writers of poetry. Florence Miller remained as librarian until June of 1933 when she left to marry and move to Farmingdale. Throughout the years of her employment, Miss Miller attended library classes and conventions to further her education in librarianship. She was replcaced by Martha L. Johnson. From its beginnings, the library worked closely with Miss Sarah Askew, librarian at the State of New Jersey Public Library Commission, to strenghten its collections.
 
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The Community House

"I delight to think that in years to come, perhaps 100 years or more from now, when this building is covered with ivy and surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers and shrubs, all within the sound of the old ocean's roar, great towns will exist. For in my opinion, this whole Jersey coast will be one vast city population in winter as well as in summer with Spring Lake, perhaps, as the garden spot of it all."

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These prophetic words spoken in 1923 by Spring Lake mayor and generous benefactor, Oliver Huff Brown, better known as O.H,. came true in less than a hundred years. O.H. was referring to the Spring Lake Memorial Community House, a combination theater, library and community center. Dedicated to the 58 World War I veterans from Spring Lake, the Community House was always intended to be a living memorial.

   

        Oliver H. Brown, born in Farmingdale, Monmouth County in 1852, led a life of devoted service to Spring Lake – and New Jersey – throughout his life. Elected in 1896 as a member of the New Jersey State House of Assembly, he was selected to be one of only 20 delegates to the 1900 Republican National Convention that nominated William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt for the Republican presidential ticket. His dedication to Spring Lake is best demonstrated by his simultaneous holding of the offices of Mayor of Spring Lake, and a member of the New Jersey State Senate.

   Oliver Brown's service to Spring Lake was not limited to his political career. His early career began in the retail industry. After a trip to Europe, he returned to New Jersey to begin his own retail establishment in 1882. He "wanted to cater to people of refinement and culture" (Spring Lake Gazette, July 6, 1923) and purchased three lots on Third Avenue for his own store, O.H. Brown's Furniture. He also owned several houses in town. In 1919, he surprised parade goers by announcing his plans to donate the triangular piece of land on Third Avenue between Brighton and Madison Avenues and an additional $100,000 for a building, but only if the town would raise matching funds. Led by the Women's Club, which needed a permanent meeting place, residents raised another $100,000 to help ensure the institution would be self- sustaining.

      After relocating two houses on the property to another part of town, a cornerstone was laid on March 18, 1922. With Spring Lake builder, H. Horace Moore, and New York City architect, Frank Eaton Newman, the Community House was designed and completed by the Fourth of July the following year. Brown added to his gift by donating theater seats and other furnishings.

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    Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Spring Lake Memorial Community House

    Local papers reported the next day that Brown spoke of the " deep satisfaction" the day brought him, of the "desire and dream of his life" that had come true while he could yet witness it, and his hope that its fullest benefits could be realized. Although he died in 1924, the Community House fulfilled his wish, attracting local people as well as visitors from northern New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Community House offered regular group meetings, weddings, dances, movies, plays, annual flower shows and story hours for children in its building. The first librarian- her name recorded in history as simply Miss Miller- was paid 50 cents an hour through a $100 donation from a friend of the Women's Club.

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During Construction of Building

  When the Depression nearly wiped out the trust fund, a small number of people working through the Women's Club made sure the building was heated and open, although activities were suspended. It began to recover financially only after World War II.

 

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 Today the Spring Lake Memorial Community House is swarming with activities for everyone. The Tudor style design  celebrates its heritage and provides the charm of an old English manor house. The library features a working fireplace flanked by wingback chairs that remind visitors of a time long gone while less than three feet away, nestled among the old wooden bookshelves, are two computers with internet access and wi-fi signal.

 

 The Spring Lake Memorial Community House thrives as a living memorial, blending old with new, preserving history with a nod to the future.

 

The Spring Lake Memorial Community House Today