All American Road Trip {Part 5: Boston Public Library}

"...the first outstanding example of Renaissance Beaux-Arts Classicism in America.” - National Park Service, 1986

One of the most beautiful buildings we entered while on our trip was the Boston Public Library. The library was founded in 1848, and opened its first public building in 1854. It moved to its current Copley Square location in 1895, occupying a building specially designed by Architect Charles Follen McKim. The library was expanded again in 1972 and now comprises the McKim building and the Johnson building. Boston Public Library holds the title of America's first large free municipal library.

McKim saw the library as a "palace for the people," and palatial it is.   Upon entering the library, Guastavino vaulted ceilings decorated with intricate marble mosaics tower above you, and shining marble floors lead to a grand staircase guarded by two  large lions.  As you walk through the halls, passing murals by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes,  Edwin Austin Abbey, and John Singer Sargent, you can feel the magnificence of the building.

In the Elliott Room, mythical figures representing Time and the Hours adorn the ceiling, painted by John Elliott. In Bates Hall, oak bookshelves line the room, standing under iron grilled windows and a beautiful, coffered, barrel-arched ceiling, while banker's lamps with green glass shades sit atop large wooden tables. From the grand central staircase you can see into the central courtyard which features a large Frederick MacMonnies fountain and an arcaded gallery.

The Boston Public Library is truly a visual feast.

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