Riverton Free Library Association
The Riverton Free Library Association was founded on 12 January 1899 by a group of community volunteers. The “Free” in the title refers to the library’s status as a “library association.” The Association continues as a volunteer organization, independent of any government body.
For a detailed history of the library see The History of the Riverton Free Library from 1899 to 1970. A joint research project, which produced an excellent article, can be found in the Historical Society of Riverton’s Gaslight News Jan 2018
The HSR completed an ambitious cataloging project, organizing and cataloging the library’s archive collection of documents. An online Finding Aid allows online access to the collection. For details, see the Gaslight News October 2021, page 3.
Our Building’s Beginning
On 4 February 1908, Mrs. Sarah Morris Ogden, who had purchased the house from the George L. Senat family, deeded the building for $1.00 to the Association in memory of her late husband, Riverton’s first Mayor. The Edward H. Ogden Memorial Library had its new home on Main Street between 3rd and 4th Streets after being housed for nine years in the Reading Room in the Parish House of Riverton’s Christ Episcopal Church.
The land, with its building built in 1852 — based on the Victorian architectural pattern book, A. J. Downing’s Country Houses, Design III, Symmetrical Bracketed Cottage — was initially purchased from the Riverton Improvement Company by Rev. Alphonso Willits, an inspirational orator. The residence remained an investment property, with multiple renters, as noted in maps over the years, until Willits defaulted on the mortgage in 1862 It was then purchased by the Senat family, who owned it until George Senat’s death in 1898.
Seated in his reading room, “Uncle George” L. Senat in 1887. His house would become the permanent site for the new library in 1908.
Significant additions to the original building are the Children’s Room, added in 1958, and a large adult fiction/meeting room, added entirely through donations, in 1992. The walnut circulation desk, built in 1992 by a Riverton resident, was a gift to the library. Major interior renovations were completed in 2018.
Branch Status: Burlington County Library System
In 2003, the Riverton Free Library became a full branch of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS), thus making available to our patrons all the resources of the larger system as well as making our employees now under the auspices of BCLS. The grounds and the building, and all local financial resources including the management of donations and endowments, continue to be the responsibility of the library’s Association.
Image: The Edward H. Ogden Memorial Building, Riverton Library Association, c1908.
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