Fruitland Park gearing up for grand opening of new $3 million library

The City of Fruitland Park and the Lake County Library System are preparing to host a grand opening ceremony for the new $3 million Fruitland Park Library.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday, July 19 at 11 a.m. at 604 W. Berckman St. It will include a ribbon cutting, presentations, refreshments and live music. And the first 500 patrons will receive an exclusive library card featuring a picture of the new facility.

The new Fruitland Park Library, which is scheduled to open July 19, pays tribute to the city’s history with a historic windmill and flooring and windows from the old Casino Community Building.

The 12,000-square-foot, one-story facility will provide a significant upgrade from the former 7,000-square-foot space, allowing a larger selection of books and media, and more room to host programs and events. The library’s new eatery, the Gardenia Café, will serve breakfast and lunch.

The library features a coastal theme, a large wraparound porch and outdoor rocking chairs. The building also pays homage to the city’s past by incorporating original oak floors and windows from the old Casino Community Building.

The library’s community rooms, the Palm Villa and the Hillcrest, are named after historic homes dating back to the 1800s. Another historical treat is the large windmill outside the library – an original to the city which operated from 1915 to the 1950s just a few feet where it now towers over the new library.

The library’s outdoor garden is named after the late Virgil Bell, father of Fruitland Park City Commissioner Christopher Bell and grandfather-in-law of Lake County Commissioner Josh Blake. His original artwork of local, historic homes will be displayed in the front foyer, celebrating his legacy.

The Fruitland Park Library began in 1916 and was incorporated in 1966. It became part of the Lake County Library System in 1997.

Construction for the new library began in March 2018. Fruitland Park plans to convert the old library into a community center.

“This is a momentous occasion. For the first time in 10 years, a new library building will open in Lake County,” said Jo-Ann Glendinning, director of the Fruitland Park Library. “It’s been a long journey, but well worth the wait. Our community has grown. It was time we grew with it.”