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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Historic Sites Council Unanimously Approves Cape May Library

Cape May's Franklin Street School

By Press Release

CAPE MAY – Cape May, Cape May County, and the County Library achieved the first major milestone in the restoration and repurposing of the Franklin Street School into Cape May City’s branch of the County Library System June 17. 
According to a release, Mayor Zack Mullock, Councilwoman Lorraine Baldwin, and Deputy City Manager Louis Belasco represented the Cape May alongside County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, Cape May County Library Director Andrea Orsini, and Ocean City Councilmen Robert Barr as architect Michael Calafati presented the plans for the latest and most historically significant addition in the County Library System to the New Jersey Historic Sites Council. The New Jersey Historic Sites Council unanimously approved the rehabilitation and repurposing of the abandoned Franklin Street School. 
This building will not only enhance Cape May’s plan for “Museum Row” and downtown arts and culture district, but recognize and preserve the history of segregation in the U.S. while celebrating Cape May’s African American community. Members of the Community Center for the Arts, Jim Cheney and David Mackenzie, educated the members of the Council on the historic significance of the project and how the building will allow them to enhance and grow their multi-cultural educational programs. This approval moves the Franklin Street School one step closer to continuing its sentinel duty as a reminder of a time of deep division while bearing witness to the strides in equality made by society and ensuring its future watch of the constant march toward equality and unity. 
Mullock and Baldwin agreed, “This is a great step forward for Cape May. Not only will we preserve such important and largely forgotten history, but we have unanimous support from the State Historic Sites Council to help preserve such an important building for the City of Cape May. This building will be a wonderful Library, Community Center and a place of fellowship for all to gather, learn, and have fun.” 
This project, along with the Harriet Tubman Museum, Allen African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and the Stephen Smith House, will enrich the historical character of the country’s National Historic Landmark City by telling the rich African American experience in Cape May, perhaps the longest overdue story in the County Library System.

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