Other NJ News

East Brunswick: A Defunct Library, Suburban Redevelopment, and the Lindbergh Baby (Part 1 of 4)

The DeVoe Library at 166 Main Street, East Brunswick Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Some old fixtures are mixed with more contemporary shutters and wooden trim at the location. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Books and historical records are stored precariously in the old library room downstairs. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
The second floor had been used as an apartment and is painted in colonial colors though the building dates from the mid-19th century. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The DeVoe Library, the first one in the township, is located in a busy section of Main Street in the section of town called "The Historic Village of Old Bridge."  At its peak, this section of East Brunswick was the hub of trade and activity on the South River.  The great names of our township lived there and made their mark on the history of the businesses and social networks that grew to become the township we know today.  The DeVoe Library has ceased to be a vital part of East Brunswick life, though its legacy of local service to literacy and children formed the basis of the great schools and library which are the pride of East Brunswick.

What should happen to this building now as it weakens with age and lack of use?  The DeVoe Library was seriously impacted by Hurricane Irene in 2011, as were many properties in nearby sections of East Brunswick that fall on the flood plain.  The building needs work, and it can no longer host visitors or house occupants.  

Questions regarding the role and upkeep of the DeVoe Library have sat on the desk of East Brunswick's past few mayors, and now they are on that of Brad Cohen, who is trying to understand the relationship between what we value as a community and what we maintain for purposeful use.

Sign Up for E-News

Recently, the East Brunswick Township administration engaged the engineering firm of Remington and Vernick to evaluate the conditions of the DeVoe Library. According to the Property Conditions Report, the structure dates from the mid-1800's and is comprised mostly of wood and plaster.  The building has been deemed generally a stable structure, though the repair of wooden joints, supports, and windows is necessary.  The building has also suffered some flood damage and is in need of lead paint remediation.

As the building has no basement, it remains in danger of flooding.  It is also not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act that requires ample space for movement that the narrow doorways and staircase do not allow.

The engineers hired by East Brunswick Township have posited that repairs to the DeVoe Library would range in the area of $350,000, with an additional $450,000 to relocate the building and put it on a new foundation.  Restoration to maintain historical accuracy would be another expense, says Township Administrator Joe Criscuolo.  That nearly-million-dollar expense could fall to residents at a rate of 5 tax points if the project to revive the DeVoe Library is funded by East Brunswick.

The question remains after an evaluation of expense is also that of "sustainability," say both Mayor Cohen and Criscuolo. "What is being done with the DeVoe Library now, and what will be done with it in the future?  How does it serve our community?" asks Cohen.

The Mayor has gone to Middlesex County and the office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman to ask for help.  Both sources of funding for historical restoration came with strict requirements and offered about $50,000 each, with the township to pay matching funds for each grant. The total is nowhere near what is required.

East Brunswick Township leased the DeVoe Library to the East Brunswick Museum Corporation as a management organization in 1982 so that the building could be used for cultural programming.   The township has paid for maintenance of the outside of the building and has provided other support.  In order to justify the non-profit status as a historical location, the DeVoe Library needed to provide evidence of cultural programming or other purposeful use.  During recent years, there has been very little.

Mayor Cohen has cancelled the addendum that cedes authority to the East Brunswick Museum as of this month, and the township will now take full responsibility for the property.  "Due to the condition of the building, " says Cohen, "it is best that it remains closed down."

In six months, if there is not a plan brought forth to the administration for the use of building and a method of addressing the costs for the repair, renewal, or revisioning of the DeVoe Library, the process for demolishing the building will begin in May, 2018.

*Part 2 of this series will focus on the reasons for maintaining the DeVoe Library's contents and some comments by stakeholders on the historical importance of the location to East Brunswick.

*Part 3 of this series will feature some elements of the historical materials housed in the DeVoe Library and their relationship to significant people and events in local and statewide history.

*Part 4 of this series will describe the role of historic preservation and the arts in the redevelopment East Brunswick.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


TapInto Welcomes Letters to the Editor, Guidelines for Submission Listed

PISCATAWAY, NJ - Letters to the Editor are a time-honored tradition in the newspaper industry and now that so much of news has moved online, the letters explaining a personal point of view have moved with it.

While many of our letters come during election time, TapInto invites letters year round. The main rules are to include a full name, phone number, email and snail mail address. TapInto ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

New Brunswick Battles Hunger with Largest Food Pantry Network in County

July 17, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rev. Douglas Shepler became pastor of New Brunswick's Second Reformed in April 2008 and by October had a food pantry running that quickly attracted people in need, including Rutgers University students.

“We had graduate students coming to us and they had a choice of paying their rent or paying for food,” Shepler said. However, those students ...


Hillsborough, NJ - Gina (Francoisa) Salamon, 90, died Monday, July 9, 2018 at Bridgeway Care Center ...
Read more
Piscataway – Michael John Doherty, 73, passed away Saturday June 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, ...
Read more

New Outlook Pioneers hosts 18th Music in the Park at Milt Campbell Field

July 15, 2018

Plainfield, NJ - On Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 5PM Sponsored by: The City of Plainfield (including the Cultural & Heritage and Human Relations Commissions), Mayor Adrian Mapp and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; along with CO-SPONSORS: New Outlook Pioneers, Mr. Plainfield (Robert Graham),TD+Partners -A Community Impact Development Firm, and Re/Max Select, Sandra L.

Cruising with Autism on the Seas

This is a event that includes the partnership and collaboration of Cruise Planners, Autism Friendly Escapes and WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do!. WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do is a non-profit 5013c, organization that supports families that have autistic and special needs children through advocacy, social play dates, resources, workshops, community support, seminars and family ...

Piscataway Library Accepting Diaper Donations Now Through July 31st

The Piscataway Public Library is helping the Central Jersey Diaper Bank collect diaper donations through the month of July. 

New or open packs of disposable baby diapers (all sizes) and wipes are needed.

Look for the blue bins at either Kennedy or Westergard to donate!

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale Next Week

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Four to Feature Brahms

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, July 21, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Sun, July 22, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Sun, July 22, 11:00 AM

Columbia Park Senior Center, Dunellen

Bus Trip to SOPAC's Hunchback of Notre Dame ...

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, July 23, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Residents Taking Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

July 17, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

July 15, 2018

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.