Library Tour - Chapter 1

Library Tour - Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1 -- THE BUILDING… Intricate architecture represents the Gilded Age

At the time, the Library represented the aspirations of the people for creating a place where all could achieve their education goals…true “people’s university.”  

  • The Renaissance building opened March 15, 1900. It had a total cost of $387,000. (The book stack totaled 93,000 volumes.There were 39 employees and the expenditures the first year totaled $28,000.)
  • The original 1900 building is a richly articulated, two-story, granite-and-brick sheathed structure of Venetian Renaissance inspiration and capped with a low, copper-clad hip roof.
  • The Library is set back from Washington Street on a high terrace with a sweeping double stairway and balustrade leading to a triple archway entrance centered on the 13-bay Washington Street façade.
  • Embodying the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century, the building materials were selected for their beauty and durability; muted gray Roman brick placed on a granite base and trimmed with Indiana “Bedford” limestone. The effect is compelling, causing many a patron to pause and admire the elaborate decoration flanking the great front doors.
  • The first story is rusticated and the tall, round-arch second story windows are framed with Corinthian pilasters. Considerable Sienna marble was used in the foundations for pillars and pilasters.
  • The original building has a granite base course and granite balustrade fabricated from Red Westerly Granite. 
  • An illustration of the attention to details which characterizes the building is the frieze, which runs entirely around the main building. It will be noticed that among the heads of the cherubs, which appear in the capitals of the pilasters again and again, there are no two which are precisely alike.
  • The five Ginkgo trees lining the building's Washington Street front were planted in November 1963.
  • The Library's original wall along Washington and Greene Streets was partially removed and replaced as part of the city's rerouting of Greene and Fountain Street traffic in the 1960s.

CHAPTER 2 -- Entrance and Grand Marble Staircase

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