Central Library Centennial
1912 - 2012
The New City Library, January 1912
From the Springfield Republican, January 11, 1912 (excerpts)
CITY LIBRARY DEDICATED.
NEW BUILDING IS THRONGED.
INFORMAL EXERCISES ARE HELD.
VISITORS HIGHLY ENTHUSIASTIC.
Brief Addresses Made by Nathan D. Bill, Librarian Wellman, Mayor Lathrop and Dr Van Sickle, Superintendent of Schools--Details of the New Building
A brilliant spectacle, and one of the most inspiring that the city of Springfield has had for a long time, was afforded by the dedication exercises at the opening of the new library building on State street last evening. The big glass globes at the top of the broad entrance staircase and the myriad lights of the building were aglow to welcome for the first time the people of the city to the splendid new center of its intellectual life. As the visitors approached the building along State street its many windows, bright with a warm illumination, extended to them a greeting which was symbolic of the spirit in which the library has been built and of the place which it is meant to fill in the life of the city. There was a great gathering of well-known citizens for the dedication, and a good many people came also from out of town, so that the new building was a scene of great animation.
The people began to assemble as soon as the doors were thrown open, and the rooms were quickly filled with an eager throng of sightseers, who scattered through every apartment in the great building to inspect the arrangements and to exclaim over the combination of beauty and of convenience that has been attained. The vestibule, with its frieze of Greek horsemen, executed in bas-relief, and with its broad marble steps leading up to the rotunda, made a most attractive entrance.
As the guests entered the rotunda, which is to be the delivery-room, they were met by the sound of music, which was played by members of the Philharmonic orchestra, who sat opposite the doors and rendered a continuous program of fine music through the evening, except at the time when the exercises were in progress. The corners of the rotunda were set with palms, whose dark green contrasted effectively with its white walls. The graceful lines of the columns and the powerful sweep of the arches and dome brought forth many expressions of admiration from the people as they stepped through the doors. A great deal of the attention in planning the building has been given to this entrance, and the result is most successful, for the great hall gives the impression at once of dignity, of artistic composition and of comfort, difficult to attain in a room of such dimensions.
This impression is carried as well into the other large rooms of the building. Rice hall, the general stack and reference room, which is at the left of the rotunda, and the library of fine arts, which is at the right, both give this feeling of quiet and of refinement, tending to make the visitor feel at home at to make the time of his stay at the library more pleasant, which is often lacking in public buildings of this sort. On all sides was heard the expression that the designers of the building had succeeded in erecting a building that was ideal in its combination of usefulness and attractiveness. Librarians from other cities said that they had rarely seen a building so well adapted from a practical point of view for the work for which it was intended, which at the same time retained so much of the homelike atmosphere.
Rice Hall in January, 1912
Many Visitors Present
The guests last night numbered many of the most prominent men and women in the city. About 1000 invitations had been sent out, and nearly that many people must have been in the building during the evening, for they were going in and out from the time when the building opened till it closed late in the evening. They were in all the rooms, from the galleries at the top to the stack rooms in the mezzanine floor, where thousands of volumes can be stored in such a way as to be immediately accessible. There were men in full dress and boys who carried their caps in their hands and peered with eager eyes about the great library, and a few foreigners, recently come to the country of promise, in shabby clothes and of apologetic bearing, admiring the building that promised them knowledge of their new land and entrance into its life. Women led boys and girls about the corridors, showing them the rooms in the new building which they were to have for their own juvenile books and pictures. Others accompanied their husbands, examining the decorations and watching the throngs. Still others walked arm in arm, in enthusiastic conversation about the library, of the fine arts, or contemplating the endless possibilities offered by the capacious reference room for club researches into the history of Rome or for papers on the meanings of Browning. There was no type of the city's population that was not represented, and the wide interest in the new building augured well for the influence of the library on the city's thought.
Among the out-of-town visitors at the dedication last evening were: Charles Belden of Boston, state librarian; J. Randolph Coolidge, Jr., of Boston, trustee of Boston atheneum; H. H. Ballard of Pittsfield, librarian of Berkshire atheneum; Harold T. Dougherty of Pawtucket, librarian of Deborah Cook Sayles public library; Drew B. Hall of Somerville, librarian; Rev Dr F. W. Hamilton of Somerville, president of Tufts college; Mr and Mrs George S. Godard of Hartford, Ct., librarian of Connecticut state library; Miss Margaret B. Toley of Hartford, reference librarian of Hartford public library; Miss Alice T. Cummings of Hartford, assistant librarian of Hartford public library; Frank B. Gay of Hartford, librarian of Watkinson library; Mrs Belle H. Johnson of Hartford, library visitor, Connecticut free public library commission; Charles R. Green of Amherst, librarian of Massachusetts agricultural college library; Rev F. B. Makepeace of East Granby, Ct.,; Miss Rebecca F. Smith of South Hadley, librarian of Gaylord library; Miss Mabel Southworth of Ware; W. B. Medlicott of Longmeadow, trustee of Richard Salter Storrs library; Mrs W. B. Medlictott of Longmeadow; Mr and Mrs John P. Harding of Longmeadow; Mrs Edith Armstrong Talbot of Plymouth, N.H., daughter of Gen Armstrong of Hampton; Miss Mary McIntosh of East Longmeadow, librarian of public library; Mrs. L. O. Davis of East Longmeadow; Miss May Ashley of Greenfield, librarian of public library; Mrs William Ashley of Greenfield. William Orr, now deputy state commissioner of education, and for many years curator of the Science museum, during his connection with the central high school, came up from Boston especially to attend the opening exercises.
Rice hall, in which the dedicatory exercises were held, was crowded to overflowing. After the chairs were filled, people took to the stairways for seats, and the gallery behind the speakers and all space in the balcony for extra book shelves from which a view could possibly be obtained were filled. The aisles between the book stacks on the ground floor also held their quota of people; and the listeners clustered about the stairway on which the people stood. Even the openings of the gallery windows on the third floor, which look down into the hall, were lined with visitors anxious to hear the speeches which would mark the formal opening of the building. The program was informal, as the reception had been. There was no receiving party, and the effort throughout was to make the affair as simple and intimate as possible....
Rotunda in January, 1912
Rotunda Dome in January, 1912
Rotunda dome after 1998 restoration
Read more about the history of the Springfield City Library