CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ – The rehabilitation and expansion of the Historic Franklin Street School in the City of Cape May as the County’s newest library is now more than 50% complete, announced Cape May County Library Commission Chair Jackie Henderson today.
“The Library Commission is very pleased by the progress being made on this new, 16,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art library,” Henderson said. “We certainly look forward to its completion later this year and then inviting all County residents to come and enjoy the facility for generations to come.”
In mid-2020, the CMCLC submitted an application to the New Jersey State Library for funding to rehabilitate and repurpose the Historic Franklin Street School in Cape May – a facility built in 1927 as a segregated elementary school and now a designated New Jersey African-American Historic Site. The application, awarding the Commission $3.447 million in November of that same year, was one of just 38 approved statewide out of more than 129 submitted.
“It is an impressive collaboration of effort and funding that has moved this project from concept to construction,” stated County Commissioner Will Morey, who serves as the Board’s Liaison to the CMCLC. “It is exciting to be a part of this effort and watch it transform – quite literally – from a rendering to a reality.”
Morey noted that, as required by the grant, the state funding is being supplemented by local contributions from the County of Cape May, the Library Commission, and the City of Cape May – a unique, multi-level partnership that not only highlights the exceptional nature of this project, but one which also underscores the positive community impact that results when units of government work together.
Also contributing to the cost of the project are the National Park Service’s African-American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund and the New Jersey Historic Trust.
Located immediately adjacent to the Harriet Tubman Museum, the CMCLC is creating a destination library that will offer the services and programming expected in a 21st Century library, while preserving the notable African-American history of the region.
“This project is a perfect example of how to preserve the past while preparing for the future,” said Cape May City Mayor Zachary Mullock. “In addition to saving an historic building, a new barrier-free library that meets the educational, recreational, technological and programming needs of today’s generation is being created. The City of Cape May is proud to continue to support this important project.”
Michael Calafati, AIA, the project architect, was a key player in the development of the CMCLC’s application and created the design and specifications of the new library. “Much of my professional focus over the past year has been dedicated to bringing this great project to life,” Calafati stated. “Regular meetings with contractors, representatives from the County and City and other stakeholders have helped to keep everyone focused and on task, all with an eye towards completing construction by December 2023.”
Also assisting in writing the CMCLC’s successful application was Triad Associates of Vineland, NJ – a community and economic development firm that has secured more than $1.4 billion in funding for its clients over its 45 years in business.
This project is supported by funds from the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act, administered by the New Jersey State Library.