Founded by an act of the state legislature in 1860, the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences was a small organization of interested and prominent citizens of Mount Holly who took local history and science seriously: they presented papers on science topics such as Francis Ashhurst’s “Molecular Power as Exemplified in the Radiometer” in 1882, and historic figures such as Barclay White’s “John Woolman of Mount Holly” in 1883. Curators amassed a huge collection of natural science objects, such as birds’ nests, minerals, and local Native American artifacts such as stone axes and arrowheads. In the late 19th century, they established a circulating library that evolved into the Mount Holly Public Library. Originally located in the municipal building, the Mount Holly Library moved to the Langstaff Mansion at 307 High Street in 1957, after the trustees purchased the historic building, built in 1830 by James Langstaff. Before the County Library opened in Westampton, this was the largest library in the area, employing 8 full-time librarians. Over the years, as the area evolved into more of a metropolitan area and the county library system developed, the demand for services at the Mount Holly Library diminished, and on August 23, 2013, the County of Burlington purchased the historic building from the board of trustees with the intention of preserving and restoring the original mansion and turning it into a general history museum.
As a significant step towards that goal, the building is now closing for a major renovation. We regret any inconvenience this may cause patrons. However, we anticipate a complete and thorough restoration of this beautiful Burlington County architectural gem. The Langstaff Mansion will then be the perfect setting for interesting history and science programs, exhibits and lectures, with easy access to genealogy and history research resources. While the restoration proceeds, the Lyceum Association will remain active, offering lectures and programs at other locations and keeping the public informed about the progress of this great endeavor...a rare case in which the historians are looking to the future.