ON SATURDAY, APRIL 14, members of the Eisner family, friends and patrons of the Red Bank Public Library gathered in what was once the family home to commemorate 75 years as the Eisner Memorial Library.
Brigid McCarthy, library board president, gave the welcoming address and Library Director Faith Chmiel followed by introducing attendees that included Freeholder John Curley and Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, whose grandmother worked in the Sigmund Eisner Company’s factory during World War I and World War II. Several generations of the Eisner family were also present.
Jan Eisner of Atlantic Highlands, a great-great granddaughter of Sigmund and Bertha Eisner, said: “Thank you on behalf of my grandfather Monroe, and my father Robert, for designating April 14, 2012, the Eisner Memorial Library Day.” Many of the original uniforms manufactured by the Eisner factory, on loan from Jan Eisner, were on display.
Gerald Eisner, grandson of the Eisners, made the trip from Scarsdale and fondly remembered spending every Sunday in the house playing the card game Russian Bank with his grandmother Bertha and maiden great-aunts, Ida and Rosa. He also reminisced about working one summer in the Bridge Avenue factory as a machinist. It was 1939, he was in college and earned $12.50 a week. He was the boss’ son and the female sewing machine operators liked to give him special attention. “They thought it quite funny,” he says. Gerald grew up at 247 Broad St., in what is now the United Methodist Church’s parsonage.
The highlight of the afternoon came when Elizabeth McDermott, local history librarian, cut the ribbon extending across the door to the newly-named New Jersey History Room located on the second floor of the library. A climate and light-controlled space, it houses priceless collections of atlases, directories and information detailing the history of the library, Red Bank and Monmouth County dating back to the early 1800s. Many possessions and personal memorabilia belonging to the Eisner family add to the historic value of this room. McDermott, along with an archival consultant obtained through the New Jersey Historical Commission, oversaw the project to completion. It will be open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons and by appointment. It is available to researchers, students, genealogists and anyone interested in local history.
The three Eisner sons, J. Lester, Raymond and Monroe presented the Italian villa-style home to Red Bank in 1937 where they saw a crying need for a library. Built in 1856, Sigmund and Bertha Eisner purchased the 16-room home in 1906 and renovated it twice, adding a mahogany living room in 1920. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, raised their family and entertained many in this home.
The event held on Saturday was the kick-off of a year-long celebration in observance of the opening of the Local History Room.
For more information contact the library at (732) 842-0690 or visit their website www.lmxac.org/redbank.