Groundbreaking Ceremony, May 12, 1917 Floral Motif on Column


75th Anniversary Main Page


Opening Day, June 2, 1927

Getting ready: Free Library opening On July 8, 1926, architect Horace Trumbauer completed the last revisions to his design for the Free Library's central building. Later that year, workers put finishing touches on the enormous $7 million structure. With the closing of the old central library at Thirteenth and Locust Streets on October 30, 1926, preparations began for the colossal move into the new building. On January 20, 1927, teams of movers transported the first books from the old building, as well as other storage facilities throughout the city, to the newly finished building on Logan Circle. Throughout the winter and into the spring, Head Librarian John Ashhurst oversaw the enormous task of packing, transporting, unpacking, and shelving the library's numerous collections as well as records, furnishings, and other material. By May 25, when library officials hosted a preview tour of the new building for local dignitaries, the move was complete. The press applauded the beauty and utility of the majestic new library building, which, contemplated for more than thirty years, had taken fifteen to construct.

Cyrus Adler presents the keys to the Central Library to John Ashhurst On June 2, 1927, librarians and trustees officially opened the Free Library Central building with a dignified ceremony on the lawn along the Fairmount Parkway. While the Police and Firemen's bands played and newsreel cameras rolled, Mayor W. Freeland Kendrick, City Council president Charles B. Hall, and other dignitaries including former U. S. Senator George Wharton Pepper, a descendant of the library's founder, praised the new building and the many people who had devoted years and, in some cases, decades to its erection. Capping the ceremony, which was broadcast live on the radio, Clinton Rogers Woodruff, the chair of the Committee on Main Library Site and Building, presented the keys to the building to Board of Trustees president Cyrus Adler, who, in turn, passed them to Head Librarian John Ashhurst. After the head librarian took possession of the building, he threw open the front doors and thousands of Philadelphians pressed into the entrance hall and up the great staircase to inspect their imposing new library building. Throughout the rest of the day and well into the night, awestruck visitors marveled at the structure, one of the most spacious and dignified in the country. All agreed that the new Central Library would quickly repay the tremendous effort and expenditure required to erect it.


Floral Motif on Column
Floral Motif on Column
Floral Motif on Column Founding, 1889-1898 | Quest for a Home, 1894-1910 | Initial Plans, 1910-1912 | Delays, 1912-1919 | Construction, 1920-1926 |
Opening Day, June 2, 1927 | Central and Logan Circle
To the Free Library of Philadelphia Main Page History