Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Old Lincoln Library

If you had asked me when I was six what my favorite place was in downtown Springfield, I undoubtedly would have said the Lincoln Library. Well, I might have said the municipal fountain but probably it would have been the library (they were next to each other anyway).

Since we are talking 1966, I am of course referring to Springfield’s old municipal library with all the marble, the large central staircase, the huge grandfather clock, and the glass floors that graced some sections.

I continued my love affair with that building until it was torn down in the mid 1970s. I was a freshman at Griffin High School the year he wrecking ball began to make way for a new, more modern library. I don’t think I understood then just how much I would miss the old building.

Thanks to Russ Friedewald of Springfield Trivia, I am able to post several pictures of the old library.

The first shot is of the front of the building itself.

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Next we have the marble staircase and the grandfather clock. This picture doesn’t do justice to how cool that staircase was. Nor do you really get a sense of how dominant the clock was as you climbed the stairs holding the brass handrails.

Then there were the glass floors. These were not everywhere in the building but were pretty cool where they did exist. This picture was taken as the library was being emptied for demolition. Therefore, the books are all gone but you can (sort of) see the glass floors. The supports with the curly ends held the shelves. The mesh cage next to the worker was (as I recall) a book elevator for getting the books up to the second floor.

Finally here is a shot of the interim library used while the new library was being built. It was a storefront on the south part of the Old State Capital Plaza. I recall it being a bit cramped but still functional. I remember reading my first Rolling Stone magazine in there in there about 1975.

These pictures are part of a Power Point presentation Russ linked to in the comments section of an earlier post. If you would like to see the whole thing (you of course need Power Point) click here. It's really great. It has pictures going back to the construction of the old library right through its, umm, deconstruction.


Blogger DownLeft said...

You mean Springfield used to have a beautiful library that looked like that and we trashed it to build that ugly, boring monstrosity we have now? What is wrong with people?! I'll assume they needed more space and the building was getting too old, but doesn't anyone care about good architecture aymore? How sad.

2:41 PM  
Blogger DownLeft said...

Another thought...most buildings built that are called "modern" and "futuristic" are just called ugly 10 years into the future.

2:42 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved that old library. In my memory I can still conjure up all the smells and sounds from being inside the library. When I close my eyes I can still see and feel the old woodwork. That is one place that they should have made every effort to preserve.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok can somebody please enlighen me as to where that old library was located- the first beautiful picture. how and when did spfld let that building go.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old library stood where the "new" library now stands. I totally agree that the new building has ALWAYS been ugly and that the old should have been preserved at all costs. The old buildings have at least two things that new ones do and history!!!
God bless and preserve our historic buildings and the memories within them!!

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old library was one of the many (2000+) libraries that Carnegie helped to establish. One feature was that of open stacks, where readers could discover books one their own. As a youngster, I discovered the Kinsey Report. WOW! Did it open my view of life.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old library was a gem. Loved just visiting the inside. The temporary library on the south of square was in the old JC Penney store.

9:03 PM  

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