Browse Exhibits (1 total)

Constructing the Main Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library


“Gentlemen:–If the City of New Haven will provide a suitable site for it, I desire to erect and present to the City a handsome, fireproof building for the Public Library.” With these words, and a gift of $300,000, Mary E. Ives (Mrs. Hoadley Ives), became the founding mother of the present New Haven Free Public Library. The site, at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets where the Library stands today, was purchased by the city for $95,000. The architect, Cass Gilbert, designed the brick and marble building to harmonize with the traditional architecture of New Haven, and especially with the United Church nearby. The construction of Ives Main Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library took several years. The building was formally dedicated to the City of New Haven on May 27, 1911. The photos in this exhibit illustrate the slow and deliberate construction of the building over the years, from the digging of the foundation to the final finished exterior.