Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

New Jersey Historic Trust Affiliated with the Department of Community Affairs

Summit Public Library (Summit Playhouse)

Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund
Historic Site Management Grant
Grant Award: $6,713 (2006)
Grant Recipient: Summit Playhouse Association
County: Union
Municipality: Summit

Constructed as the Summit Public Library in 1891, architect Arthur Jennings designed a picturesque, Romanesque style structure of slate, granite, and brick. In 1918, the building was rescued by the Playhouse Association, which formed as a relief organization during WWI, and remains one of the oldest amateur theaters in the country. The Association purchased the building from the municipality in 1968 and constructed a 100-seat auditorium addition in 1960. With the publication of the Women’s Heritage Trail guide, the Summit Playhouse is also recognized for its significance associated with Marjorie Cranstoun, the theater’s founder and director for more than 50 years.

The theater today attracts 4-5,000 adult and child patrons annually. As well as producing performances, the association preserves the theater’s architecture and collections, including a lobby mural by Jack Manley Rose, a children’s book illustrator, and 87 years of local history in its photograph and cast collections. The Trust grant helped fund preparation of a National Register nomination for the building.

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