*On the second floor, the Nicholson Information Commons is one of the architectural highlights of the Library. Featuring large, arched windows, the room originally served as the main reading room. Angel friezes adorn each end of the room. The paintings on the ceiling beams depict publisher marks from the 1910s, along with the initials of the Saint Paul Public Library.
A quick ride on the Express bus takes you to what might be the most romantic place in Saint Paul - the Central Public Library in Rice Park. Constructed began in 1914 and the doors opened in 1917, and the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. A few hours with 350,000 books and other materials made me forget all about the snowy, gloomy winter lurking outside. The Central Minneapolis Library is pretty incredible architecturally - especially since it is a 'green' library - and the selection is more expansive, but the shiny new spaces just don't set my heart a-flutter like the old and pristine ones!
Designed by architect Electus Litchfield, the Central Library is Italian Renaissance revival in style and influenced by Litchfield's studies with the architects for the New York Public Library. Some features marking the style include the round arched windows, the Palladian style entrances, the large stonework, the balustrade surrounding the building, the rondel features near the arched windows, use of classical columns and pilasters, and the cornice capping the structure. The style was continued throughout the interior of the Library.
There are some great references to and small displays of F. Scott Fitzgerald books and memorabilia. He is a Saint Paul native. You could really spend a lot of time oohing and aahing over these.
The highlight for me is the magazine room on the third floor, also known as the Greenleaf Clark room after the Minnesota Supreme Court Justice. The room features an elegant, small alcove entered through three arches supported by groups of four columns. The central panel in the ceiling shows the old seal of the Library with the sword of St. Paul, symbolizing the city, supported by books and torches. The names of the greatest minds of old Europe, including Homer, Socrates, Descartes, Voltaire, Galileo and Da Vinci, are inscribed on the ceiling beams.
(The reading room, now the Nicholson Information Commons)
(The circulation room in 1955)As you can see, it is a truly magical place. I will definitely be going back to check out what has become of the Puppet Stage!
(The puppet stage - here in 1949- was designed by by local architect Magnus Jemne in 1949. The stage is made of bleached walnut from southern Minnesota, and features a carved head of Loki, the god of mischief in Norse mythology.)The Saint Paul Public Library system also has a Bookmobile, and I couldn't resist sharing these sweet photographs with you! The first area Bookmobile dates back to 1917 and there have been six vehicles since then.
(The first Saint Paul Bookmobile, 1917)
(The Bookmobile in 1980)*Historic photographs and info taken from the SPPL website.