Lobby Exhibition, 1947 Floral Motif on Column

75th Anniversary Main Page

Floral Motif on Column
Outfitting the Interior, 1925-1926

1925 On June 11, Trumbauer publishes "The Specification of Interior Finish and Decoration of Building of the Free Library of Philadelphia." Specification of interior finish of building of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Construction in the Government Publications Room Construction in the Periodical Room H.W. Miller plaster book on Central Library Building 1925-26 The F. W. Mark Construction Company is awarded the contract to finish the library's interior. Over the next two years, their subcontractor, the H. W. Miller Company, decorates the interior spaces with cast plaster figures drawn from ancient Greece and Rome and from medieval Europe. Among the many figures depicted in plaster relief are Athena, Zeus, Hercules, and Athenian horsemen. Several rooms -- including the entrance hall -- are enriched by ornate, coffered-plaster ceilings.

Main Entrance Hall Sculptor from the John Donnelly Company The highlight of the grand staircase is a bronze statue of Free Library founder Dr. William Pepper by artist Karl Bitters. Numerous classical elements carved by the John Donnelly Company in marble and limestone grace the staircase, reading rooms, and hallways. Carved marble lamps flank the grand staircase. Interior floors are of pink Tennessee marble banded with green marble; terazzo floors of pink Tennessee, pink English, and black Belgian chips: and Welsh Quarry tiles.

Art Metal Windsor chair Art Metal advertisement featuring the Central Library The Art Metal Company of Jamestown, New York, is awarded the world's largest metal library equipment contract to supply the library's furnishings and equipment. Their products employ no wood or other flammable materials, ensuring that the furnishings are fireproof. Virtually all of the building's original lighting fixtures will eventually be replaced with fluorescent and other more modern lighting devices. However, a later portrait by Robert Susan of John Ashhurst, who oversaw the design and construction of the library building between 1916 and 1927, will show one of the original green-globed brass reading lamps.

Beautiful hand-wrought iron gates flank the three front portals on Vine Street and the two side stair doorways on the second floor. Unique hand-wrought decorations embellish the main elevator entrances. Although their maker is unknown, the ironwork is very similar to contemporary work done by famed Philadelphia artist Samuel Yellin.

Floral Motif on Column
Floral Motif on Column
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