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exclusive of appropriations previously made.

The preparation of the new design was at once entered upon, using the
previous one of Mr. Smithmeyer as a basis by reducing its dimensions and
otherwise considerably modifying it to bring the cost within the required limit.
The new plans were completed and submitted for approval to the Secretaries
on November 23, 1888, but no action was taken by them. At the same time
this design, together with another modification of the original, retaining the full
dimensions of the building, but modifying its ground-plan and other archi-
tectural features, within and without, in many important particulars, was placed
before Congress. The cost of the building by the latter design was estimated
at $6,003,140, and the time for its construction at eight years. Toward the
close of the session Congress again took up the subject of plans in connection
with the sundry civil appropriation bill and adopted the larger modified design
by the act approved March 2, 1889, directing that the building be erected in
accordance therewith, and at a total cost not to exceed $5,500,000, exclusive
of appropriations previously made. The amount of the previous appropria-
tions was $1,000,000, of which a balance of $745,567.94 remained after the
expenses of operations on the old plan had all been defrayed. Thus the total
limit of cost of the new plan was fixed by law at $6,245,567.94. It may be
added that none of the plans, drawings, or designs made prior to General
Casey's taking charge of the work were used, all having been new and different.

In the meantime many detailed plans of stonework for the exterior walls,
foundations, etc., had been prepared, and the working up of the details of de-
sign and construction in general had been actively going on in the drafting
room, so that all was in readiness for the prompt and vigorous commencement
of operations, which took place on the ground as soon as Congress had passed
the act of March 2, 1889.

In the execution of the work General Casey had the entire responsible
charge under Congress from October 2, 1888, until his death, on March 25,
1896, and he also disbursed the funds during that period. He held general
supervision, gave general direction to all principal proceedings, and maintained

6



an intimate knowledge of the work at all times, while performing the duties of
his more absorbing and important office of Chief of Engineers of the Army at
the War Department, to which he succeeded a few months before he was
placed in charge of the Library building by Congress. General Casey had been
connected with some of the most important pieces of construction ever under-
taken by the Government, including the erection of the State, War and Navy
Building and the completion of the Washington Monument. The last was
an especially difficult task, as it had been necessary to strengthen the old foun-
dations of the shaft before it was possible to proceed with the work. In this
delicate and hazardous undertaking, as well as in the erection of the State, War
and Navy Building, and other works, General Casey had been assisted by Mr.
Bernard R. Green, C. E., whom he now appointed to be superintendent and
engineer of the construction of the new Library building, and put in full local
charge of the entire work.

To aid in designing the artistic features of the architecture that is, exclu-
sive of arrangement, construction, utility, apparatus, and the management of
the business Mr. Paul J. Pelz was employed under the immediate direction
of General Casey and Mr. Green. Mr. Pelz had been in partnership with Mr.
Smithmeyer in the production of the original general plan and design. In this
way the design of the building, as it now appears in the main in the exterior
and court walls, the dome, the approaches to the west front, was evolved, Mr.
Pelz thereby fixing the plan and main proportions of the building. In the
spring of 1892 Mr. Pelz's connection with the work ceased. At that time the
building had reached but little more than one-half its height.

In the fall of that year Mr. Edward Pearce Casey, of New York City, was
employed as architect and also as adviser and supervisor in matters of art.
His designs principally include all of the most important interior architecture
and enrichment in relief and color. Mr. Casey continued as architect until the
completion of the building. On the death of General Casey, in March, 1896, he
was immediately succeeded by Mr. Green, under whose charge the building
was completed, in February, 1897, within the limit of time set by Congress
in 1888, $150,414.66 below the limit of cost, or, in round numbers, for
$6,344,585.34.

General Decoration : Mr. Qarnsey and Mr. Weinert. In addition
to those whose work has been described in the preceding paragraphs, two other
men remain to be mentioned in giving any general account of the construction
of the new building : Mr. Elmer E. Garnsey, who was in charge, under the
general supervision of the architect, of the conventional color decoration of the
interior, and Mr. Albert Weinert, who, in the same way, was in charge of the
stucco ornamentation. Mr. Weinert was put at the head of a staff of modellers,
who executed on the spot the great variety of relief arabesque and minor sculp-
ture required in the comprehensive scheme of stucco ornament adopted by Mr.
Casey as a chief factor in the decoration of the main halls and galleries through-
out the building. For the general color decoration of the building which ex-
tends into every room in the building, and includes the many elaborate and
beautiful arabesques which decorate the vaulting of the main halls Mr. Elmer
E. Garnsey, who had been concerned in similar work at the World's Fair, the
Boston Public Library, and the Carnegie Library in Pittsburg, was engaged. A
large studio was fitted up in the building and a staff of designers and fresco-
painters was organized. Mr. Edward J. Holslag was appointed foreman ; Mr.

1



William A. Mackay and Mr. Frederick C. Martin were employed to carry out
on the walls the finer portions of the designs ; and Mr. W. Mills Thomp-
son and Mr. Charles Caffin to make the finished cartoons from the original
sketches for the use of the fresco-painters. The latter numbered about twenty-
five, and the larger portion of them were kept constantly busy for nearly a year
and a half.

The General Character of the Building. Of the splendid and mon-
umental building itself, it may be stated, before entering upon a detailed
description and stated, too, with hardly any fear of contradiction that it
is the most perfectly adapted for the convenient use and storage of books of any
large library in the world. It is the largest, the costliest, and the safest. It is
absolutely fire-proof, not through any ingenious arrangement or contrivance, but
by the very quality of the materials of which it is built < granite, brick, marble,
iron, steel, and terra-cotta. Wood floors are used in many of the rooms, but
they are merely a carpet of boards laid upon terra- cotta or brick vaults. It
would be impossible for the Library to burn down ; a fire would nowhere have
an opportunity to spread. The great size of the building is perhaps best ap-
preciated from a statement of the amount of some of the materials used in it :
409,000 cubic feet of granite, 500,000 enamelled brick, 22,000,000 red brick,
3,800 tons of steel and iron, and 73,000 barrels of cement. The draughting
office turned out, during the eight years that the Library was under construc-
tion, i, 600 plans and drawings. Exclusive of the cellar, the total floor- space
is 326,195 square feet, or nearly eight acres; and the whole number of win-
dows is about 2,165.

As a matter of "library economy," the arrangement of the building is of
great interest. The problems to be solved were mostly new ones. In a paper
on the Library, read before the American Library Association, Mr. Green said :
" Its design was preceded by few or no good examples of library architecture,
and was therefore the outcome of theory and deduction rather than the appli-
cation of established principles." This task was not undertaken in any dog-
matic way, however ; " the effort was," as Mr. Green went on to say, " to plan
on general rather than particular principles, and afford the largest latitude for
expansion and re-arrangement in the use of the spaces."

So far, however, as general interest is concerned, it is the magnificent series
of mural and sculptural decorations with which the architecture is enriched
that has contributed most to give the Library its notable position among Ameri-
can public buildings. Although a similarly comprehensive scheme of decora-
tion was carried out at the World's Fair in Chicago, and afterwards in the new
Public Library in Boston, the Government itself had never before called upon
a representative number of American painters and sculptors to help decorate,
broadly and thoroughly, one of its great public monuments. Commissions
were here given to nearly fifty sculptors and painters all Americans and
their work, as shown throughout the building, forms the most interesting record
possible of the scope and capabilities of American art.

It may be noted here, also, that, both inside and out, the Library is, in the
main, in the style of the Italian Renaissance derived, that is to say, from the
architecture of the buildings erected in Italy during the period (roughly speak-
ing, the fifteenth century or earlier) when the elements of classic art were re-
vived and re-combined in a Renascence, or New Birth, of the long-neglected
models of Greece and Rome.

8



THE EXTERIOR OF THE BUILDING.

The site of the Library originally comprised two city blocks, containing
seventy houses, with an extent, as has been said, of ten acres. It is
bounded by First, East Capitol, Second, and B Streets, and forms a partial
continuation of the band of parks which stretches east from the Washington
Monument, including the Agricultural Grounds, the Smithsonian Grounds,
Armory Square, the Public Gardens, the Botanic Garden, and the Capitol
Grounds. The general effect of the grounds enclosing the Library is that of
an extension of the Capitol Grounds, the street separating the two, for example,
being treated, so far as possible, as a driveway through a park, and both being
enclosed by low or " dwarf " walls of the same height and design.




PLAN orrmsTSTorcr



The Library faces exactly west. It is four hundred and seventy feet long
(from north to south), and three hundred and forty deep (from west to east).
It occupies, exclusive of approaches, three and three-quarters acres.

The general disposition of the building may best be seen by a glance at the
ground plan -given on the present page. The exterior walls are thus seen to
belong to a great rectangle, which encloses a cross dividing the open space
within into four courts, each one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five or
one hundred feet wide. At the intersection of the arms of the cross is an octa-
gon, serving as the main reading room, and conspicuous by reason of its dome
and lantern, which, rising well above the walls of the Rectangle, are the first
feature of the building to attract the attention of the visitor. The lantern is
surmounted by a great blazing torch with a gilded flame the emblematic



Torch of Learning which marks the centre and a"pex of the building, a hun-
dred and ninety-five feet above the ground. The dome and the domed roof of
the lantern are sheathed with copper, over which, with the exception of the
ribs of the dome, left dark to indicate their structural importance, is laid
a coating of gold leaf, twenty-three carats fine. The surface covered is so
large that one's first thought is apt to be of the expense. As a matter of
fact, however, the total cost including the gilding ior the flame of the torch
was less than $3,800. Since it will require to be renewed much less frequently
its use was considerably more economical than painting.

The Facades. The exterior walls of the Library are constructed wholly
of granite, quarried in Concord, New Hampshire. The stone is a close-grained
variety, so even and light in tone that when the sun is shining upon it the effect
is almost as brilliant as if a white marble had been used. The massive buttresses

which support the Octagon
at each of its eight corners,
and so much of the Octa-
gon wall as is visible from
the outside, are also gran-
ite, but of a different
quality, slightly darker in
hue, and coming from
quarries in Maryland.

The Library is in three
stories: the basement
story of fourteen feet ; the
first story, or main library
floor, of twenty-one feet ;
and the second story of
twenty-nine feet making
a height of sixty-four feet
for the three stories at the
lowest point. Adding to
this the base at ground
level, and the simply de-
signed balustrade which
surmounts the whole, the
total height is seventy-two feet above the ground. Beneath the entire structure
is a cellar, below the level of the ground outside, but within opening upon
the interior courts. The granite of which the walls are constructed is rough,
or "rock-faced," in the basement story; much more finely dressed in the story
above ; and in the second story brought down to a perfectly smooth surface.
The windows in the basement are square -headed, as also on the library floor,
except along the west front, where they are arched, with ornamental keystones.
Throughout the second story they are again square- headed, but with casings
in relief, surmounted by pediments alternately rounded and triangular, and,
along the west front, railed in at the bottom by false balustrades.

To prevent the monotony incident to a long, unrelieved facade, the walls are
projected at each of the four corners and in the centre of the east and west
sides, into pavilions, which, in addition to being slightly higher than the rest of
the rectangle thus allowing space for a low attic-story are treated with

10




NYMPH AND SEA-HORSE, FROM THE FOUNTAIN.



greater richness and elaboration of ornamental detail. The corners are set with
vermiculated granite blocks blocks whose surface is worked into " vermicu-
lations" or "wormings." The keystones of the window-arches in the first
story are sculptured with a series of heads illustrating the chief ethnological
types of mankind. Along the second-story front runs a portico supported up-
on a row of twin columns, each a single piece of granite, with finely carved Co-
rinthian capitals. The pedestals which support the columns are connected by
granite balustrades, so that the portico forms a single long balcony, with an en-
trance through the windows which look out upon it.

THE ENTRANCE PAVILION.

Of all these pavilions the West, or Main Entrance, Pavilion, is by far the
largest as well as by far the most ornate. It is one hundred and forty feet
long, or almost a third the total
length of the building, and
about seven feet higher than
either of the other five pavilions.
At either end it is itself pro-
jected, or pavilioned. The Main
Entrance is through a porch
of three arches, on the main
kbrary floor. The approaches
are extensive and imposing.
A flight of steps, constructed
of granite from Troy, New
Hampshire, ascends from either
side to a central landing, laid
with flags of red Missouri granite.
Thence the stairway leads in
a single flight to the Entrance
Porch, with space underneath
for a porte cochere in front of
the doors admitting to the base-
ment. The central landing just
spoken of is protected by a
high retaining wall which forms
the background for a splendid
fountain by Mr. Roland Hinton
Perry, ornamented with a profusion of allegorical figures in bronze the
chief figure representing Neptune enthroned in front of a grotto of the sea.

The posts of the granite railing of the steps support elaborate bronze
candelabra, bearing clusters of electric lamps for illumination at night.
The spandrels of the Entrance Porch the approximately triangular
spaces flanking the three arches are ornamented with female figures
sculptured in high relief in granite, representing Literature, Science, and
Art. They were modelled by Mr. Bela L. Pratt. Above the main
windows of the library floor is a series of smaller, circular windows,
which serve as a background for a series of granite busts (the pedestals of
which rest in the pediments below) of men eminent in literature. There

ii




NEPTUNE, FROM THE FOUNTAIN.



are nine in all, seven along the front, and one at each end of the pavilion.
They are flanked by boldly sculptured figures of children, reclining upon
the sloping pediments, or, alternately, by "massive garlands of fruits. The
keystones of the circular windows each support the standing figure of a winged
cherub, or genius, all sculptured from a single design, and introduced as the
accentuating feature of a frieze of foliated ornament extending along the three
sides of the pavilion. Like the garlands and figures on the pediments, they
were modelled by Mr. William Boyd. At either end of the attic story Mr.
Boyd's hand appears again in the sculptural embellishment of the little porch
as one may perhaps call it which looks out upon the balcony formed by the
granite railing. The rounded pediment contains a group in granite consisting
of the American eagle flanked by two seated children. Each pediment is
supported on the shoulders of two conventional Atlases "Atlan tides" is
the technical name figures of gigantic strength, so called because in the Greek
and Roman mythology Atlas was fabled as a giant supporting the vault of
heaven by his unaided strength.

A more particular description is required of the fountain, the ethnological




RUSSIAN SLAV.



BLONDE EUROPEAN.



BRUNETTE EUROPEAN.



heads, the series of busts in the portico of the Entrance Pavilion, and the span-
drel figures ornamenting the Entrance Porch.

Mr. Hinton Perry's Fountain. Of Mr. Perry's fountain, it may be
said at once that it is the most lavishly ornamental of any in the country. It
occupies a semicircular basin fifty feet broad, containing a dozen bronze figures
disposed to represent a scene so one may take it in the court of Neptune,
the classic god of the sea. The granite wall of the terrace against which the
fountain is placed contains three deep niches, in the spandrels of which are four
dolphins sculptured in relief from models by Mr. Albert Weinert. The niches
themselves are treated with an evident suggestion of a grotto worn by the sea,
with a hint, also, at the formation of stalactites by the constant dripping of
water. In front of the central niche Neptune is seated in a majestic attitude
on a bank of rocks. He is represented as an old man with a long flowing
beard, but the lines of his naked figure indicate the energy and great muscular
strength befitting -the -Rtrier-of-tiie-Peep. TlrciigTrre is of colossal size ; it would
be, that is, if standing, about twelve feet in height. On either side of the
bank lolls a figure of Triton, one of the minor sea-gods, blowing a conch shell
to summon the water-deities to the throne of their sovereign. In front of
each of the niches at the side is a sea-nymph triumphantly bestriding an infuri-
ated sea-horse, his ears laid back and his fish's tail writhing with anger on

12



account of a jet of water constantly thrown against his head. The basin is
crossed and re-crossed by similar jets, which furnish the whole flow of water,
and proceed from the mouths of sea-monsters in various places throughout
the fountain. There are seven of them in all. The first is a serpent just showing
itself above the water in front of the bank on which Neptune is seated.
Higher up, to the right and left, two gigantic frogs lurk in crevices of
the rocks ; and floating along the outer edge of the basin are four huge Florida




MODERN GREEK.



PERSIAN.



CIRCASSIAN.



turtles, their heads raised a little above the water and their long fins making as
if swimming.

The Ethnological Heads. The ethnological heads ornamenting the key-
stones of the first-story pavilion windows offer as interesting material for study
as any of the decorations of the Library. The series is unique in that it is the
first instance of a comprehensive attempt to make ethnological science contribute
to the architectural decoration of an important public building. It was at first
proposed to employ a more conventional kind of ornament, such as the familiar
Gorgons' heads so often found in connection with Renaissance architecture.
The present idea was carried out with the assistance of Professor Otis T.




HINDOO.



HUNGARIAN.



SEMITE.



Mason, the Curator of the Department of Ethnology in the National Museum for
the last twelve years. The heads, thirty-three in number, are about a foot
and a half in height, and were modelled, some by Mr. Boyd and others
by Mr. Henry J. Ellicott, after data accumulated by Professor Mason as the
result of some six months' special study of the ethnological collections in the
possession of the National Museum which contains, indeed, practically all the
material (books, photographs, carefully verified measurements) necessary for

13



such an undertaking. The large collection of authentic, life-size models,
chiefly of savage and barbarous peoples, which the visitor may see in its exhi-
bition halls, is the most extensive in the country, and many of the heads on the
Library keystones are taken directly from these.

Taking into consideration the difficulty of obtaining the more delicate dif-
ferentiation of the features in a medium so unsatisfactory, from its coarseness
of texture, as granite, the result of Professor Mason's work is one of the most




ARAB.



TURK.



MODERN EGYPTIAN.



scientifically accurate series of racial models ever made. Still another difficulty,
it may be added, lay in the fact that each head had to be made to fit the key-
stone. Besides the necessity of uniform size, the architect demanded also, as
far as possible, a generally uniform shape, which it was often very hard to give
and still preserve the correct proportions of the racial type. The face had to
be more or less in line with the block it ornamented, and, especially, the top of
the head had to follow, at least roughly, a certain specified curve. This last
point was met either by using or not using a head-dress, whichever best met the
difficulty. In one case the problem was a little puzzling that of the Plains
Indian, with his upright circlet of eagle's feathers, which were bound to exceed




ABYSSINIAN.



MALAY.



POLYNESIAN.



the line, if accurately copied. The difficulty was frankly met by laying the
feathers down nearly flat upon the head.

In preparing the models, accuracy was the chief thing considered. Any
attempt at dramatic or picturesque effect, except what was natural to the type
portrayed, was felt to be out of place. Each head was subjected to the strict
test of measurement such as the ratio of breadth to length and height, and
the distance between the eyes and between the cheek bones this being the

u



most valuable criterion of racial differences. All portraiture was avoided, both
as being somewhat invidious and unscientifically personal, and, more espe-
cially, because no one man can ever exemplify all the average physical
characteristics of his race. On the other hand, the heads were never permitted
to become merely ideal. It will be noticed that all are those of men in the.
prime of life.

The list of the races, beginning at the north end of the Entrance Pavilion, and;




AUSTRALIAN. NEGRITO. ZULU.

thence continuing south and round the building to the Northwest Pavilion, is
as follows, each head being numbered for convenience in following the order
in which they occur: i, Russian Slav; 2, Blonde European; 3, Brunette
European; 4, Modern Greek ; 5, Persian (Iranian); 6, Circassian; 7, Hin-
doo; 8, Hungarian (Magyar) ; 9, Semite, or Jew; 10, Arab (Bedouin) ; n,
Turk; 12, Modern Egyptian (Hamite) ; 13, Abyssinian; 14, Malay; 15, Poly-
nesian; 16, Australian; 17, Negrito (from Indian Archipelago); 18, Zulu
(Bantu) ; 19, Papuan (New Guinea) ; 20, Soudan Negro; 21, Akka (Dwarf
African Negro) ; 22, Fuegian ; 23, Botocudo (from South America) ; 24, Pueblo
Indian (as the Zunis of New Mexico) ; 25, Esquimaux ; 26, Plains Indian




PAPUAN.



SOUDAN NEGRO.



AKKA.



(Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche) ; 27, Samoyede (Finnish inhabitant of Northern
Russia) ; 28, Corean; 29, Japanese; 30, Aino (from Northern Japan) ; 31,
Burmese; 32, Thibetan; 33, Chinese.


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Online LibraryHerbert SmallHandbook of the Library of Congress → online text (page 2 of 13)