From Barnet Hall Academy to the Tewksbury Township Library
1807: Barnet Hall Academy was built and presented by Dr. Oliver Barnet to the people of New Germantown, now Oldwick. The Academy housed a school and residence on the first floor and the upper level served as a community space for many activities including dramatic performances, debates, public meetings, and Sunday school. The grounds were the scene of many activities such as the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, an 1837 circus performance, and Civil War militias mustered for exercises.
1833 and 1902: renovations were made to the building; since that time the exterior of the building has not changed significantly.
1951: Sawmill School was built to serve Tewksbury Township and Barnet Hall Academy closed its doors.
1954: The Oldwick Community Center was incorporated by a group of Tewksbury citizens to bring athletic, social, cultural, and educational events to the people of Oldwick and vicinity. The former Academy was purchased from the Tewksbury School Board by one of the Community Center founders and donated to the corporation.
1956: After extensive repairs and renovations, The Oldwick Community Center opened its doors in the former Barnet Hall Academy. In the spirit of Dr. Barnet’s Academy, the Center was the meeting place for many groups including the Oldwick Community Players and Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. Social and cultural activities included French and drama lessons, poetry presentations, movie nights, birthday parties, and exercise groups. The kitchen on the first floor was used to provide refreshments.
1960’s: The Oldwick Street Dance was a major social gathering and fundraiser for the Oldwick Community Center for many years each June. The streets of Oldwick were closed and bands provided dance music—rock and square dancing—for all to enjoy. The last Street Dance took place in 1997.
1968: A group of volunteers explored the possibility of forming a library association in Tewksbury. The Hunterdon County Library assured the group that it would receive Member Library status and Tewksbury would receive books purchased for it by the County on an extended or permanent loan basis and also would furnish a rotating collection on short term loan. A Tewksbury Library Association was formed and incorporated and a Library Board was appointed.
1970: Library Association volunteers cataloged and processed books that were purchased or donated by people from the Township and neighboring libraries. The books were located in a small upstairs room of the Community Center.
1975: Membership in the Tewksbury Library Association had grown from 100 to 398 and book acquisitions from 600 to 1700 titles. A portion of the first floor of the Oldwick Community Center housed the books and became the location of the Tewksbury Library.
1980: The Tewksbury Township Committee voted to fund the Library with $1,000 provided that the Library Board raise $2,500 which was done. The Township’s voluntary contribution of $57,200 continues to subsidize the operation of the Library.
1985: The Oldwick Community Center Board of Trustees leased the first floor of the Center to the Tewksbury Library Association. The upstairs continued to be used for meetings, cultural and social activities and exercise classes.
1986: The Oldwick Historic District was entered onto the New Jersey Register of Historic Places which includes the Oldwick Community Center.
2003: The second floor of the Community Center was closed because of a fire code violation, the lack of a second means of exit from upstairs.
2007: In December the Oldwick Community Center Board of Trustees turned over the custodianship of the building to the Tewksbury Township Library for use as a library and meeting place. The Oldwick Community Center disbanded after fifty-three years and the Library Board of Trustees became responsible for all maintenance and repairs of the 200 year old building.
2008 - 2009: After much planning and fundraising, the Library Board embarked on major renovations to the building including an addition with a rear stairway providing access to the second floor. The second floor of the building was opened as The Marion Katnack Children’s Library and Community Room.
2012: The Tewksbury Library is committed to providing quality services and resources to meet the evolving cultural, educational, social and informational needs of the community. Fundraising by the Board of Trustees continues in order to maintain and improve our historic building and provide a welcoming community and library space.