A Substantially Built Edifice

“The building stands on the south-west corner of Hennepin Avenue and 10th Street, one of the broadest avenues and one of the widest streets in the city. A bend to the northwest in the avenue, beginning at 10th Street, and a bend to the northeast in Tenth Street, beginning just before the avenue is reached, brings the building seemingly at the ead of both avenue and street, making it visible far down each. The complete plan of the building contemplates a quadrangle, with an open court some 60 feet square in the center. The full depth of the lot being 190 feet and its frontage 132 feet. The quadrangle completed will still leave a clear space at the rear of 40 feet and at the side of about 16 feet. As yet but two sides have been constructed, one stretching back 150 feet on 10th Street, the other extending 116 feet along the avenue. The building at present thus forms an “L”, the shorter arm (on Hennepin Avenue) having a depth of 70 feet, and the longer a depth to the court of 32 feet.”

“The exterior is of Lake Superior brown sandstone, and the interior court walls are of red brick. The only exceptions to the exclusive use of these two materials, are the columns of polished granite flanking the main entrance, and the heavy granite lintels above them. The building was designed with great care and with a conscientious effort to produce something in keeping with the character and uses to which it is devoted, affording liberal space for books, abundance of light, adequate means of ventilation, and ease and economy of supervision. For success in these respects credit is due the architects,  of Minneapolis. It is a three-story structure and is of symmetrical proportions. The beautiful colored sandstone gives it a rich and dignified appearance. At the two angles of the building on Tenth Street, there are projecting oriel windows extending the full height of the building and terminating in pointed roofs. The windows are treated in both the square and arched finish. The entire contract for erecting this building was awarded to Mr. H. E. Selden, who has succeeded in making it one of the most substantially built edifices in the city.”

“The principal entrance to the building is from Hennepin Avenue. It is a double one, and of liberal proportions. It is constructed of brown sandstone, with polished granite columns in the center and on the two sides, which support a lintel of the same material. Carved sandstone capitals afford an appropriate finish to the several columns. Above this is an oriel, or bay window, extending the height of one story, in the center of which is a niche of arched finish, where stands the heroic female figure of “Literature,” which is cast in bronze. It is by a Minneapolis sculptor, Jacob Fjelde.”

“Directly above, the name “Public Library” is artistically carved. Beginning at
this point, sandstone turrets on either side continue to the height of the building,
enclosing three arched “windows, which are capped by a gable finish.
There are additional entrances to the building on 10th Street and on Henne-
pin Avenue, consequently the visitor may enter by the side door on 10th Street,
and find the newspaper reading room at his left, or continuing through the long
corridor will reach the elevator. The main entrance leads through solid mahogany
doors into the main staircase hall. This, a stately feature of the building,
thirty-four feet square, stretching without interruption from the entrance landing
to the roof ceiling.”

from:  The Public library, Minneapolis, Described and Illustrated
by Ellwood S. Hand
1890

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