Friday, January 31, 2014
Old Free Library, Cooper's Park, Camden, New Jersey
[LIB10394] - Eldridge R. Johnson Park, and the former Cooper Library which stands at the park’s center, represent one of the most significant and unique cultural, historic, and artistic resources in the City of Camden and the State of New Jersey. The site has been designated as a State and Federal Historic Landmark based not only on the elements which remain from the peak of its use in the early 19th century, but also due to its importance as a reflection of a period of Camden’s industrial history.
Local inventor and philanthropist Eldridge R. Johnson, whose modern phonograph helped launch RCA, donated the Neo-Classical Cooper Branch Library and surrounding Johnson Park to the City of Camden. Built between 1914 and 1930, the complex occupies an entire block near Camden's waterfront on the Rutgers-Camden campus. When it opened in 1918, the site became southern New Jersey's foremost cultural and recreational center. Today, the library houses the Walt Whitman Arts Center and is owned by Rutgers-Camden.