Basking Ridge Free Public Circulating Library

Basking Ridge Library, 1907. Click to enlarge.

In 1907, the Basking Ridge Free Public Circulating Library, forerunner of the present Bernards Township Library,  was located at 25 South Finley in the Ira Pruden house, now home to Ridge Italian Comfort Food restaurant.  A bowling alley in the basement generated income to cover library expenses. 

Prior to that, the Christopher Barkalow House, 31 South Finley Avenue, hosted the library from 1893 to 1898 with sisters Mary and Elizabeth Barkalow as librarians. 

This historic photograph was published in the Eighth Annual Report of the Public Library Commission for the Year Ending October 31, 1907.   The report also contains the following description:

“On July 8th, 1889, the Basking Ridge Library Association was organized, and continued until 1898, when it was incorporated as the Basking Ridge Free Public Circulating Library, and donated all its books, which numbered 450, to the new Free Library, which now has nearly 2,000 books, and a circulation of almost 3,000 per year” (p. 22).

In 1909, the library moved to the corner of North Finley and West Oak (now D’Alessandro law offices).  Many thanks to Pat Bankowski at the Bernardsville Library Local History Room for bringing this photo and report to our attention. 

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  1. Hi Joseph, Maybe they were standard in Jersey City, but these were tiny for Bernards Twp. I’ve always heard them…

  2. Not sure where you got your information about "picnic" lots, but a 25' x 100' lot was a standard size…

  3. The trust bought the open land (athletic fields and woodland). The site of the buildings was sold to a developer.

  4. I hope the open space will still be preserved. Did the trust own the mansion when it was demolished?