Lobby Exhibition, 1947 Floral Motif on Column


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Floral Motif on Column

Planning the Central Library: Initial Designs and Setbacks, 1911-1915





Caricature of John Ashhurst, assistant librarian 1911 Architect Horace Trumbauer begins work with John Ashhurst, 3rd. The architect and assistant librarian present preliminary floor plans based on a rear, vertical book-storage stack, an important late-nineteenth-century design innovation.




Plan of the basement floor of Central Library Plan of the first floor of Central Library Plan of the second floor of Central Library

Staff of the Horace Trumbauer architecture firm 1911 Horace Trumbauer and his chief designer, Julian Abele, develop plans for the facade of the Free Library's main building. Abele, who heads the project, unveils a design based on twin facades created by the eighteenth century French architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel for buildings that stand on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.



Show me!: cartoon from Philadelphia record 1911 In the fall, Philadelphians elect Rudolph Blankenburg to succeed Mayor John E. Reyburn. A crusader for fiscal responsibility, the new mayor questions the City's capacity to fund the Fairmount Parkway project. Fearing that the Parkway project will be abandoned, jeopardizing the planned library, Head Librarian Thomson rallies the City's educational and cultural institutions. These groups successfully press for the continuation of the boulevard's construction.

Plan of the first floor of the Central Library, late 1911 version Plan of the second floor of the Central Library, late 1911 version 1912 In the spring, Trumbauer and Thomson win approval for their design from Philadelphia's Municipal Art Jury and plan a ground- breaking ceremony for June. Only days before the ceremony, lawyers counsel that the project's uncertain funding will lead to a court battle. Library officials cancel the ground-breaking and postpone construction.

Letter from Andrew Carnegie to John Thomson refusing to donate to the building of the Central Library 1912-15 The project seems hopelessly stalemated. In early 1915, library officials permit evangelist Billy Sunday to preach from the empty site. Finally, library and city leaders devise a plan to overcome the funding problems with a referendum. Voters approve the measure in the spring of 1915, and the City authorizes construction. Then further legal complications emerge, and ground-breaking is postponed once again.

Evangelist Billy Sunday preaching on March 15, 1915 Women gathered under sign at evangelist Billy Sunday's temporary tabernacle

Floral Motif on Column
Floral Motif on Column
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