“It is the culmination of an idea, or dream, of many years,” said Fred W. DeVoe proudly, as he presented the building to the township of East Brunswick on June 8, 1945. This was the birthplace and childhood home of his mother, Alice Appleby DeVoe. The building was to be a library and a community center to honor her memory.
Alice Murray Appleby was born on January 21, 1868 in this house. The daughter of Herbert Appleby and Mary Foss Appleby, she grew up in her parents’ home until her marriage to George W. DeVoe. Alice and her husband moved to Spotswood where they lived until her death in 1913. The couple had six children.
The house, a small structure, architecturally harking back to colonial times, was situated on Main Street. It was bounded by Herbert Place on the South Amboy side and Chittick residence on the Spotswood side.
The actual age of the building has been mostly conjecture. In his dedication speech, Fred W. DeVoe explained, “This is an old house and an old property. Just how old, no one seems to know. Some say the lower half of the house, the side towards South Amboy, is 200 years old. At one time, it was known as the Doctor’s lot. I guess that was because a doctor had his office here. My great grandfather, James Appleby, bought the property from a brother in 1851. His family had purchased it from Jacob Van Vickle in 1831.”
The Alice Appleby DeVoe Library opened in 1946 with books acquired mostly through resident donations. It was the only library in a 23 square mile area, and served not only East Brunswick but seven high schools in five adjacent towns. On May 11, 1966, the Alice Appleby DeVoe Library became a branch of the East Brunswick Public Library, and remained so until 1981.
In 1999 it was leased to the East Brunswick Museum Corporation. The building is used as a local history reference library and archive for the Museum’s collections of historical papers. It also currently houses volumes of New Jersey Governor Harold Hoffman’s correspondence and transcripts of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial.