Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Detroit Public Library

The main branch of the Detroit Public Library Posted by Hello

Since April 7 - 16 is National Library Week, what better time than now to write about the rich history of the Detroit Public Library?

Built in 1921, Detroit's magnificent main library was constructed at the request of then-mayor Edward H. Bennett, who felt the city's growing population deserved a new and grand place in which it could learn about things beyond its borders, as well as those taught in schools.

Designed by Gilbert Cass, an architect that had already proved his worthiness with such designs as the Woolworth building in New York and the Central Public Library in St. Louis, the exterior of the structure was purposely set back abnormally far from the edge of Woodward Avenue to create the illusion of two different worlds - the busyiness of daily life and the tranquility and beauty of the library.

Leading up to the building's entrance from Woodward Avenue, it is difficult not to be mystified by the beautiful landscaping, bronze sculptures, and bold recognition of famous theologians and scholars like Socrates and Plato, whose names were etched at the top of the building's exterior.

Inside, the ceilings are coffered in sixteenth-century style and on the walls Edwin H. Blashfield painted murals representing great authors, musicians and artists. On the second floor, readers can observe walls painted with murals by Gari Melchers, whose work there depicts early Detroit events.