The Elizabeth Public Library, which was built in 1912, stands at the site of the Red Lion Inn in the 1700's. The Inn, owned by Samuel Smith, was here during the Revolutionary War era. During the war, it was the site of at least one Court Martial, on March 8, 1779. The Red Lion Inn survived the destructive January 25, 1780 raid of Elizabethtown, even though it was the next building along Broad Street after the Academy, Church and Courthouse, which were all burned.
On the morning of April 23, 1789, Washington stopped at the Red Lion Inn prior to his lunch at Boxwood Hall, before being ferried to New York City to be inaugurated the first President of the United States. There are no historical markers on the library building itself, but a historic sign about Elizabeth on the corner in front of the library does state, "In 1789, Washington was entertained here when the lot was the site of the Red Lion Inn, a popular lodging house and tavern during the Revolution."
The Elizabeth Public Library is the first stop on our Historical Walking Tour!
After undergoing a host of structural renovations over the past decade, the Elizabeth Public Library stands as a reminder of the generosity of Andrew Carnegie, who donated it to the town of Elizabeth in the early part of the 20th Century. The library houses a variety of special collections - including those related to business and consumer health; provides Internet service; and operates from four branches. Library card holders can go to the facility’s web page, which provides access to a vast number of books, articles, audiovisual media and data.
There are ample numbers of best-selling books and retrospective book collections of great depth. The library has over seven hundred magazines in stock, as well as over fifty newspapers from around the world.
The library offers extensive collections of books, magazines, newspapers, videos and audiotapes in Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, and other languages in addition to English.
The library produces several hundred programs a year for children and adults. There are magic, craft and storytelling programs for children, as well as classical, Jazz and rock music. In recent years, the library has specialized in hosting cultural and ethnic programming that reflects the many heritages of the residents of Elizabeth. This has included programs reflecting the cultures of Central and South America and the Caribbean. African-American and Haitian cultures are also included along with countries as diverse as Portugal, Russia and Ireland.
Many staff members are fluent in Spanish and some in Portuguese and Creole.
History of Elizabeth & Family Genealogy Library Tours:
By Appointment Only. Please call 908-354-6060
Monday to Friday- 9am to 9pm
Saturday- 9am to 5pm
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