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Public Library. 3 

The New Public Library Building. 

Since the presentation of the last report of the institu- 
tion the prospective construction of this important edifice 
was entirely changed by a special act of the Legislature 
passed 10th March, 1887, making the Trustees of the 
Public Library responsible for the erection of a suitable 

The remarkable growth in use and extent of the Boyl- 
ston-street libraries, since the passage of the act of 1853, 
authorizing the City of Boston to found and maintain a Pub- 
lic Library, afforded some reasonable ground for a judgment 
as to the future requirements of the community both for 
books and for convenience of use. 

The Library collection of 16,221 volumes was opened for 
public service in May. 1854, in rooms provided by the city 
for this purpose in the old Mason street school-house. The 
donations of Joshua Bates, of London, in 1853, of $50,000, 
for the purchase of books of a permanent value, and of an- 
other sum of $50,000, the income of which was to be devoted 
to the same object, and of the Jonathan Phillips Trust Fund 
of 810,000, opened up a future for such a large collection 
of works valuable to scholars and students as to induce the 
city government to erect the Boylston-street edifice, dedi- 
cated for public service on 1st January, 1858, which then 
contained about 70,000 volumes, and nearly 18,000 pam- 
phlets. It is now filled to nearly its utmost capacity with 
357,440 volumes. 

The establishment of the branch system, which comprises. 
as previously stated, 135,516 volumes, free for public circu- 
lation, increased to a very large degree the usefulness of the 

For some years previous to 1880 it had become apparent 
that the time was fast approaching when the accommodations 
for the storage of books and for the convenience of the 
public would be entirely unsatisfactory and insufficient in 
the Boylston-street edifice, so that in that year the State of 
Massachusetts made the noble grant to the city " of a parcel 
of land, now owned by the Commonwealth,'' on the southerly 
corner of Dartmouth and Boylston street. This land being 
deemed insufficient for the size of the structure which it would 
be necessary to erect, the Commonwealth, by an act passed 
April 10, 1880, empowered the City of Boston "to take and 
hold by purchase or otherwise, so much land within its limits 
as it may deem necessary for the erection thereon of a Public 
Library, and a yard for the same." Under this act the city 

4 City Document No. 40. 

acquired the remainder of the land situated to the south, 
bounded by St. James street, and of the same depth as the 
property granted by the Commonwealth. 

The condition annexed to its grant by the State was that 
a suitable building should be begun in the course of three 
years — which time was extended, in 1883, for a further 
term of the same duration. A beginning was made just 
before the limit of time had expired, the construction of 
the edifice having been placed by the city government in the 
hands of Mr. A. H. Vinal, the City Architect. 

The Commonwealth, which had given the larger and more 
valuable portion of the land to the City of Boston, then 
intervened, and placed the whole responsibility of the 
structure upon the Trustees of the Library in the following 
carefully drawn section of Chapter 60 of the Acts of 1887 : 
" The said Board of Trustees shall have full power and con- 
trol of the design, construction, erection and maintenance of 
the Central Public Library Building to be erected in the City 
of Boston, and are hereby fully authorized and impowered to 
select and employ an architect or architects to design said 
building and supervise the construction, and a superintendent 
or superintendents to take charge of and approve the work ; 
but ivork upon said building shall not be commenced until full 
general plans of the building have been prepared, and no 
specific work shall be commenced until the same shall have 
been duly advertised, proposals for such work shall have been 
received from responsible parties, and contracts shall have been 
entered into with satisfactory guarantees for their perform- 

The community having an interest in the institution will 
recognize the wisdom and foresight of these provisions, 
although they entailed much additional labor and responsibility 
upon a Board of Trustees who had already on their hands 
quite as responsible public duties as they could reasonably 
be expected to fulfil. But they were naturally supposed to 
know from experience the present necessities of the great 
reference Library. It became necessary to provide for these, 
and then to make some reasonable estimate of the require- 
ments arising from its probable use and growth in the 
unknown future for which provision was also to be made. 

Under the powers committed to them the Trustees ap- 
pointed as architects of the proposed structure the well- 
known firm of McKim, Meade, & White, of New York, who 
have since established a branch office in Boston, and who have 
been assiduously at work, with a large force of draughtsmen, 
upon the plans and drawings. It will be seen by the act 
of incorporation that the general plans must be finished 

Public Library. 

before the building can be begun. On no other conditions 
could the judgment of the Trustees be safely exercised. 
There could be no undue haste permitted in preparing 
complete plans of construction for a monumental building 
designed to meet the conjectural wants of an unknown 
future. The provision for coming time must be based upon 
the experience of the present necessities of the institution, 
and of the enlargement of its administration requisite to 
insure the same freedom of use that has caused its remarka- 
ble growth in value and usefulness even in its present con- 
fined limits. 

The present condition of the working plans affords reason- 
able assurance that they will be completed and the estimates 
be prepared by the first of April next, and that work can be 
begun as soon as the initial contracts can be advertised and 
let to responsible bidders ; but no more work will be under- 
taken during the coming season than that for which the means 
of payment have already been provided. 

City Document No. 13. 

The New Library Building. 

Last spring the Trustees were able to present to the City 
Council the general plans for the new building to be erected 
on Copley Square. These plans were the result of a year of 
unremitting and faithful study and work on the part of the 
architects, Messrs. McKim, Mead, & White, during which 
time they were in constant communication with the Trustees. 
There were many difficult problems to be solved in prepar- 
ing the plans. Owing to the unique position that the Boston 
Public Library occupies, very little help could be had from 
the study of the buildings of other great libraries. The 
Trustees have insisted that convenience and usefulness should 
not be sacrificed to show, and that the internal arrangements 
of the building should be first considered. They did not, 
however, lose sight of the fact that the building was to be a 
"palace for the people," and, as such, should be a monu- 
mental building, worthy of the City of Boston. 

The question of economy was kept steadily in view ; and 
the work already done on the Library lot was to be utilized 
as far as possible. Working upon these lines, the architects 
succeeded in producing plans which the Trustees could pre- 
sent to the City Council with confidence that they would 
successfully bear all criticism. After a long and careful ex- 
amination of the plans, models, and estimates of cost, the 
City Council almost unanimously authorized the Trustees to 
begin the erection of the building, and placed at their dis- 
posal, for this purpose, the sum of about $350,000. The 
plans and estimates, as presented, did not include any of the 
platforms, approaches, sculpture, or adornments necessary 
for a building of this importance, or any of the furni- 
ture or shelving required in it, but during the year 
the plans for some of these items have been completed. 
As soon as possible after being authorized to proceed* with 
the erection of the building, the Trustees gave to Messrs. 
Woodbury & Leighton a contract for the construction of the 
building up to the Bates Hall floor, this being as far as the 
work could proceed within the limits of the fund at their dis- 
posal. On the 28th of November the work was so far ad- 
vanced that His Honor Mayor O'Brien, assisted by the City 
Council, laid the corner-stone of the new building with ap- 
propriate ceremonies. On December 24, the Trustees decided 
that it would be prudent to discontinue all stone setting and 
brick laying until spring. The work thus far has been satis- 
factory. The Trustees transmit herewith, copies of the plans 
and elevations of the proposed building. There will of 
necessity be some slight changes made from time to time as 

Public Library. 

the work progresses, but a fair idea of the completed build- 
ing is presented by the drawings. 

tf&xrwJ $ K+slAMjLA/ ^0*srvuu XX * ^Jfaf S' / f , 3 

The New Library Building. 

The detailed statement of the work done and the amount 
expended upon the new building in Copley square during 

6 City Document No. 48. 

the past year will be found in the annexed report of the 
Clerk of the Works. 

In the early part of the year the Legislature author- 
ized the City to borrow $1,000,000, outside of the debt 
limit, for the purpose of the continuation of the work 
upon this building. In the act authorizing this loan it was 
made the duty of the Trustees to sell the land and building 
now occupied by the Central Library on or before the matur- 
ity of the loan, and to pay the proceeds of the sale to the 
Sinking -Fund Commissioners, to constitute a sinking-fund 
against the indebtedness incurred under the act. The 
amount of the loan authorized was considerably less than 
was asked for b} r the Trustees, and will not be enough to 
enable them to complete the building. Bids for the stone 
and brick masonry necessary for the completion of the build- 
ing were advertised for in May ; but all the bids made, 
being found unsatisfactory, were rejected, and new bids 
then asked for. In the new competition Messrs. AVood- 
bury & Leighton were awarded the contract. The Trustees 
have every reason to be satisfied with the work, which is 
subjected to the most thorough and careful inspection at 
all stages. During the winter it was thought advisable 
to suspend work, but since it has been resumed the building 
has been carried up as rapidly as was considered advisable, 
in view of the nature of the ground and the massiveness of 
the structure. It is to be hoped that the building will bo 
roofed in by the first of January, 1891. 



Public Library. 15 



The foundations have been finished in the same general 
character as they were commenced, being very thoroughly 
built, and inspected by competent men. 

Superstructure . 

Granite. The granite for the building is of very high 
character, being carefully selected at the quarry, and as 
carefully cut and laid. Any stone which has been found to 
be patched, cracked, or stained has been rejected and re- 
placed by new. Great care has been taken to see that the 
details have been carried out. The bricks and other material 
have been up to the standard. 

Early in the spring a new system of flooring was adopted 
known as the Guastavino Fire-proof system. All the floors 
of the ground floor, including the area outside of the building 
and the arcade, have been constructed on this system, as 
well as the lecture-hall floor, a portion of the stack floors, 
and of the ceiling in the main building ground floor. Tests 
have been made, and all floor tiles not up to the standard 
have been rejected. The iron beams which were obtained for 
the floors of the ground floor are being used for the framing 
above the first floor. 


The floors throughout the ground floor have been levelled 
up with concrete made of cinders and Portland cement. 


The cements for all the mortar were tested for tensile 
strength before being accepted for use on the building. 


No work was done on the building from January 1 to 
March 11 on account of winter weather. 

Further delay was caused by the substitution of granite in 
place of brick in the construction of the Blagden-street vesti- 

16 City Document Xo. 48. 

bule, by the substitution of stone as the material for the 
Boy lston -street vestibule, and by the substitution of rolled- 
steel columns, which had to be specially made, in place of 
cast-iron columns for the main building. 

During the season a full-sized model of the Bates Hall 
ceiling has been constructed in the stack, and a full-sized 
model of the main cornice placed at the intended height at the 
corner of the building on Dartmouth and Blagden street. 

Four new contracts have been entered into, viz : With 
R. Guastavino, on June 25, at certain rates per foot, for 
building tile arches, domes, setting beams, cutting skew- 
backs, etc. ; with Woodbury & Leighton, on July 22, for 
$673,750, work and materials in the continuation of the erec- 
tion of the building : with R. C. Fisher & Co., on August 21 , 
$18,600, for furnishing and setting [owa marble in the en- 
trance hall ; with Batterson, See, & Eisele, on August 21, 
for $69,173, for furnishing and setting Siena marble of stair- 
case and corridor. 

Special orders have been given for all changes both for 
additions and deductions. 

Condition of Building at Present. 

At present the outside walls of the building are on Boyl- 
ston street, about 11 feet above Bates Hall floor. Those 
on Dartmouth street, with the exception of a portion of 
the front, are at the same height. On the Blagden-street 
side the height of the wall of the main building is about the 
same as Boylston street ; but the rear portion is at a level 
with Bates Hall floor. The rear wall will average 7 feet 
above Bates Hall floor. 

The court walls, and the rest of the interior walls, are left 
at the line of Bates Hall floor. The vestibule on Dartmouth 
street is finished, except the carving. The Blagden-street 
vestibule is finished, except the setting of the steps. The 
flooring arches are all in for the ground floor, area, and 
arcades, a portion of stack flooring and floor of lecture hall 
and one room of main building. The marble piers of 
entrance hall are set. 

The amount of material put in the building during the 
year under contract dated Aug. 1, 1888, is as follows : — 

Block granite ..... 
Common brick ..... 

Hollow " 

Perth Ainboy brick .... 
Fire brick ...... 

61,204 cu. 


1,690 M. 

15!) " 

20 - 

3 " 

Public Library. 


Cut granite 

31,431 cu. ft. 

Iron beams .... 

63 tons. 

Cast-iron columns 

167 44 

44 plates .... 

20 44 

Rolled-steel columns . 

12 44 

Knoxville marble 

. 3,775 cu. ft. 

Gravel concrete .... 

. 3,745 44 

Cinder concrete .... 

9,887 44 

Under Contract dated July 22, 1889. 

Common brick 239 M. 

Hollow " 

25 44 

Perth Amboy brick 

8 44 

Cut granite set . 

. 4,284 cu. ft. 

Iron beams .... 

4 tons. 

Cast-iron plates .... 

500 lbs. 

Under Contract dated June 25, 1889, with 


Tile arches, 2 courses . . . . 12 sq. ft. 

a a 3 a 

14,334 44 

a a ^ it 

10,942 44 

a a 5 ii 

4,213 » 

a a () a 

2,793 44 

44 " 10 " . 

380 44 

Tile domes, 3 " . 

11,651 44 

a a ^ a 

3,519 >< 

a a f) a 

3,073 44 

a a Q a 

2,475 44 

Setting beams 

27,244 lbs. 

" minor iron- work 

737 " 

Cutting stone skew- backs 

2,480 ft. 

44 brick 44 . 

690 44 

Concrete .... 

105 cu. ft. 

Under Contract with R. C. Fisher & Co., Aug. 21, 1889. 

Marble set . 



400 cu. ft. 

Financial Statement of Work, Contract dated 
Aug. 1, 1888. 
Whole amount due under contract . . $357,581 28 

Deductions, work left out, no 

allowance agreed upon . $3,365 00 

Carried forward , 

$3,365 00 $357,581 28 

18 City Document No. 48. 

li, -ought forward, $3,365 00 $357,581 28 

Deductions, work left out, al- 
lowances agreed upon . 40,496 00 

Work not completed . . 5,000 00 

Amount paid already, includ- 
ing January draft, 1890 . 302,662 86 

351,523 86 

Balance $6,057 42 

Financial Statement of Work on Contract, dated 
July 22, 1889. 

Amount of contract . . $678,750 00 

Additional work, mentioned 

in Special Orders . . 820 00 

Total $679,570 00 

Deductions on allowances 
mentioned in Special Or- 
ders .... $400 00 

Deductions, amount paid, in- 
cluding January draft, 
1890 . . ' . . 21,119 64 

21,519 64 

Balance $658,050 36 

Financial Statement of Work on Contract, dated 
Aug. 21, 1889, with R. C. Fisher & Co. 

Amount of contract, including additions . $27,791 75 
Amount paid, including January draft, 1890, 1,830 15 

Balance $25,961 60 

Financial Statement of Work on Contract, dated 
July 22, 1889, with R. Guastavino. 

Amount of work certified and paid, including 

January draft, 1890 . $21,910 76 

Public Library. 19 

General Financial Statement to Dec. 31, 1889. 

Amount of appropriation, May 1, 1887 . $368,^54 89 
Amount of loan authorized by statute, ap- 
proved March 1, 1889 .... 1,000,00000 

Total at disposal of Trustees . . . $1,368,854 89 

Drafts previous to Jan. 1, 

1889 .... $75,126 15 

Drafts from Jan. 1 to June 

30, 1889 . . . 84,843 67 

159,969 82 

Unexpended balance, July 1, 1889 . $1,208,885 07 

Draits from July 1 to Dec. 31, 18*9 . . 161,772 07 

Unexpended balance . . . .11,047,113 00 

Amount (Dec. 31,1889) for work contracted 

for, less amounts paid on account . . 868,133 84 

Balance (Dec. 31, 1889) uncontracted for, 

for completion of building . . . $178,97916 

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The Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston 
have the honor to present to the City Council their semi- 
annual report upon the condition and progress of the work 
on the new Public Library building. The Trustees beg 
leave to preface their report with a statement of their 
relation to the new Public Library building that seems 
to be proper in order both to show why a further appropria- 
tion is required to complete the work, and to correct cer- 
tain misapprehensions in regard to their action. 

Although incorporated by a special act of the Legislature, 
that in some degree removes them from the direct control 
of the City Council, the Trustees have always desired to act 
in accordance with the expressed wishes of the City Council 
as representing the people of Boston. They believe, and 
have always acted upon the belief, that all petitions and 
requests that require the action of the Legislature touching 
matters in which the Public Library is concerned should 
come from the City Council, and they have, therefore, never 

2 City Document Xo. ( J. 

petitioned, or officially aided in a petition, that did not origi- 
nate therein. 

In the year 1887, when it became evident that the new 
building eouid not be built in a satisfactory manner by the 
City Architect, certain citizens of Boston petitioned the 
General Court for an act that should put the whole control 
of the erection of the new building into the hands of the 
Trustees. Although they were requested to aid this peti- 
tion officially, they declined so to do. and appeared before the 
Legislative Committee only in their individual capacity and 
as witnesses. Two of the Trustees, the only ones examined 
by the committee, stated that they appeared only as wit- 
3, and that the Trustees declined to take any official 
action in aid of the petition. It should be said here that the 
City Council at that time made no objection to the grant of 
the new powers proposed to be given to the Trustees. 

Again in 188 C J. when the City Council delayed action in 
regard to providing money for continuation of the work 
upon the new building, and it was evident that legislative 
action would be required to enable the city to borrow the 
needed money, the Trustees declined to petition the Legis- 
lature for the reason that in their judgment a petition of such 
a nature should come only from the City Council. 

In order that the matter might be brought before the 
Legi>lature before the limit of the time fixed for taking up 
new business by that body, and in the absence of any action 
on the part of the City Council, certain citizens of Boston 
petitioned that the city should be permitted to borrow 
beyond the debt limit a sufficient sum to complete the new 
building. This petition was not opposed by the City Coun- 
cil and it was understood that they were favorable to it. 
The Trustees at the request of the committee appeared before 
it and testified that in their judgment the building could cot 
be completed for $1, '. but that a much larger sum 

would be required. The committee, however, reported a 
bill, which became a law, to authorize a loan for $1,000,000 
only. It was stated at the time that the committee thought 
that the rest of the money required could be appropriated 
from the annual levy. Acting under this law the City 
Council authorized the borrowing of | KM), to be placed 

at the disposal of the Trust* 

After the passage of the Act of 1887 the Trustees, with 
reluctance, assumed the responsibility put upon them. Their 
first duty was to select an architect best fitted to design and 
erect a building that should not disappoint the just expecta- 
tions of the citizens. Such a building, they believed, should 
be absolutely tire proof, and afford ample room to provide 

New Public Library Building. 3 

for the present and prospective needs of the library, both 
for storing books accessibly, and for the accommodation of 
readers, students, and the administrative force of the insti- 
tution. It should be so arranged and constructed that the 
annual outlay for management and care should be reduced to 
the lowest possible amount ; and at the same time and with- 
out the sacrifice or curtailment of any of these practical ne- 
cessities for architectural effect, it should be a monumental 
edifice and an ornament to the city. Keeping these require- 
ments in view, the Trustees examined carefully the work of 
the foremost architects of the country and consulted freely 
with architects and others whose opinions would be likely to 
afford them assistance, and finally decided that Mr. McKim, 
of the firm of McKim, Mead, & White, could best carry out 
their intentions. It should be said here that Mr. McKim was 
at the time personally unacquainted with any one of the 
Trustees. They believe that their judgment was not at 
fault in making this selection, and that the city will always 
have reason to be proud of the building that Mr. McKim has 

In making the plans of the building the Trustees and Mr. 
McKim availed themselves of all information in regard to 
libraries that was within their reach. They were greatly 
assisted by Dr. James Freeman Clarke and W. W. Green- 
ough, Esq., of their number, who had, probably, as extensive 
an acquaintance with library needs and with library buildings, 
both in this country and abroad, as any two persons living. 
After long and careful study they finally determined upon 
the plans that were presented to the City Council in 1888. 

In their annual report submitted in January, 1888, they 
stated that they had reasonable assurance that the plans 
would be completed and estimates prepared by the first of 
the succeeding April. During the winter of 1888 an order 
was introduced and passed in the City Council that " His 
Honor the Mayor request the Trustees of the Public Library 
to commence and complete such part of the work as could 
be done within the appropriation already made therefor." 
This order was referred by the Board of Aldermen to the 
Library Committee, who requested information from the 
Trustees, who thereupon appeared before the committee and 
gave what information they had in their power to give, and 
laid before them all the plans for the new building so far as 
they had been completed. They also put at the disposal of 
the committee the architect, his office, and all the plans, 
papers, and figures, of every sort and description, relating 
to the new building. Further than this, they submitted a 
carefully-made model of the proposed building ; and this 

4 City Document No. 9. 

model, together with all the plans, was put on public exhibition 
in the old State House. 

There were several hearings on the subject at which some 
of the Trustees were present; but no estimates of the cost 
of the building were presented by them. At this time the 
Trustees were Mr. Greenough, who was succeeded in May, 
1888, by Mr. Prince ; Dr. Clarke, who was succeeded in July, 
1888. by Mr. Pierce ; Mr. Whitmore, who was succeeded in 
January, 1889, by Mr. Richards : and Messrs. Haynes and 
Abbott. During the latter part of the time that the matter 
was in the possession of the committee, Mr. Greenough, 
President of the Board, was absent from the State by reason 
of ill-health ; Dr. Clarke was too ill to attend to any business, 
and within a few weeks died ; Mr. Abbott was confined to 
his house by a severe illness ; Mr. Haynes had taken no ac- 
tive part in the hearings before the committee, and was not 
consulted by them in regard to any estimate ; and the re- 
maining Trustee was, with his accustomed energy, opposing 
the grant of any money for the proposed building; so that 
no member of the Trustees, so far as is known, was consulted 
as to the estimate contained in the preamble of the order 
hereinafter referred to. 

The committee in consultation with the architect fixed 
upon an estimate of $1,166,000, which was embodied in 
the order reported by them. This estimate, it should be 
said in justice to the architect, had to be prepared very hur- 
riedly ; it was, however, founded upon figures furnished by 
two contractors of responsibility in their respectives lines of 
business, for each item of construction. It was never sub- 
mitted to or approved by the Trustees individually or col- 
lectively. That it was not an estimate made or approved 
by the Trustees is shown by the preamble of the order 
which was finally passed, as follows : — 

City of Boston, 
In Board of Aldekmex, May 7, 1888. 

Whereas, It appears from careful estimates presented by the archi- 
tects appointed b\ T the Trustees of the Public Library, that the cost 
of the new building will be $1,106,000; now, therefore, in order to 
expedite the erection of said building, but intending that no more than 
the above sum shall be used in said construction, 

Ordered, That the Trustees of the Public Library be and hereby are 
authorized to commence the construction and erection of the new Public 
Library building, according to the plans made by the architects Mclvim, 
Mead, & White, ami approved by said Trustees, and to proceed with 
the work thereon, as far as it can be done within the limits of the 
appropriation, made for the erection of a new library building on 
Dartmouth street, St. James avenue, and Boylston street, and the said 
Trustees are authorized to expend the balance of said appropriation 

Passed. Yeas 10, nays 2. Sent down for concurrence. 

New Public Library Building. 5 

Ix Common Council, May 10. 
Concurred. Yeas 62. nays 1. 
Approved by the Mayor, May 12, 1888. 
A true copy. 

Attest: (Signed) J. H. O'Xeil, 

City Clerk. 

It may be further said that this estimate was never seen 
by the Trustees, with the exception of perhaps one of them, 
until it had passed the Board of Aldermen. 

The architect's estimate for the first large contract, which 
included foundations, cut-granite, brick masonry, and iron- 
work for the first story, was $315,000. These figures 
were based upon those used in making the estimate reported 
to the City Council. This contract was finally let for $2(j<),- 
776, so that it seemed at first as if the building could be 
completed for the sum specified. To show the difficulty of 
nuiking an estimate of this character it may be said that the 
bids for it, offered to the Trustees by the most prominent 
contractors in the city, varied from $266,776, the lowest, to 
$354,555, the highest. As the work progressed, however, 
it became evident to the Trustees that the estimate made by 
the committee was too small, and upon examination it was 
found they had accidentally omitted some very large items, 
namely: architects' commission, decorative work, platforms 
and approaches, shelving, and incidentals, — which latter 
item for a building of this character should be estimated at 
twenty per cent, of the cost. In their first annual report 
thereafter the Trustees called the attention of the City Coun- 
cil to this fact. 

During the winter of 1888, as has been stated, the Legis- 
lature authorized the city to borrow $1,000,000 outside the 
debt limit, to be used towards the completion of the build- 
ing ; and in the spring the City Council placed this sum at 
the disposal of the Trustees. The Legislative Committee, 
as has been before stated, were informed by the Trustees that 
this sum was not sufficient ; and in their next annual report 
the Trustees again informed the City Council that the sum 
of $1,000,000 appropriated was not sufficient, and had 
never been approved by the Trustees as an estimate for the 
completion of the building. A full and detailed statement 
of the contracts and expenditures in regard to the building 
was also submitted, showing that the Trustees had not 
enough money to do much more than cover the building in. 

Since the commencement of the erection of the building 
the Trustees have made regular semi-annual reports to the 
City Council, and one additional report that was made by 
special request. 

6 City Document No. 9. 

During the past summer and autumn the architects were 
busily engaged in preparing a detailed and careful estimate 
of the cost of completing the building. This estimate was 
presented to the Trustees complete in the month of Decem- 
ber. It was based upon the very best means of information 
within the reach of the architects and Trustees, and amounted 
to $985,560. It included the statuary and decorative work 
contemplated at the time the plans and model were submitted 
to the City Council in 1888 and is submitted herewith [marked 

After careful consideration the Trustees decided to reduce 
this estimate to $850,000 by the omission of items of statu- 
ary and other ornamental work which, although they would 
add greatly to the beauty of the building, are not absolutely 
necessary to its completion in a form of which the city will 
have no reason to be ashamed. This revised estimate is sub- 
mitted herewith [marked B]. It was communicated to the 
City Council in December, 1890, and an order was then passed 
requesting His Honor the Mayor to petition the General 
Court for leave to borrow the amount named outside the 
debt limit. 

If by the liberality of the city all things omitted could be 
restored, the result would be most fortunate for the building 
and for the city. 

A detailed statement of the present condition of the build- 
ing, and of the work done during the present year, is given 
in the report of the Clerk of the Works appended hereto 
[marked C]. 

It is believed that, if there should be no delay in mak- 
ing an appropriation for the completion of the building, it 
will be ready for occupancy before the end of the next year. 
During the past year the work has been somewhat delayed 
by reason of strikes and other causes beyond the control of 
the contractors. The accompanying schedules show all the 
contiacts that have been made for the construction of the 
building from the beginning ; the amounts that have been 
added to the contracts ; and the amounts that have been de- 
ducted from them ; and the money remaining at the disposal 
of the Trustees. 

In examining these schedules it should be borne in mind 
that a very small amount of the additions have been for 
changes that add to the cost of the building. Owing to the 
fact that the Trustees have not been able, by reason of the 
smallness of the appropriation at their disposal, to make at 
any time contracts for the completion of the whole work, 
but have been obliged in making proposals to give out the 
work in parts so that bids would not exceed the sums ap- 

New Public Library Building. 7 

propriated, it has been found in many cases that certain 
work left out of the original contracts could be better per- 
formed in connection with the work contracted for. They 
have, therefore, where their funds permitted, added such 
work to the original contract. This has never been done 
except in the interest of economy ; and the additions so 
made have been for work that would be necessary for the 
completion of the building. Such additions, therefore, have 
not added to the cost of the whole building. In every case 
the Trustees have had careful estimates made of the amount 
of the extra work, and have asked bids for it from the con- 
tractors and others ; but the work has been given to the 
contractor only when his bid was less than that of outsiders. 
It will be seen by examination of the report of the Clerk of 
the Works that the net amount of all additions to contracts 
is but six and four-tenths per cent, of the expenditures made 
and contracted for. Of the work thus added, but a very 
small part, probably one-tenth, has been w r ork not contem- 
plated at the time when the original plans were made ; but 
this increase his been many times offset by work omitted. 
With these slight exceptions it is believed that all changes 
in the original plans have tended to reduce the ultimate 
cost of the building. A percentage of six and four- tenths 
for extras w r ould be small even if they increased the final 
cost of the building — as they do not in this case. Very few 
building contracts are completed with so small a percentage 
of work added. A comparison of the contract price with 
the total cost of fourteen government buildings [see Appen- 
dix D], taken at random from the Supervising Architect's 
report of 1875, the last one that happens to be at hand, 
shows an average addition for extras of eighty-three per 

No material changes have been made in the main design 
of the building as laid before the City Council in 1888, ex- 
cept in the interests of economy. The chief changes are as 
follows : the court has been changed from its original design 
in granite to brick and marble, at an estimated saving of 
$45,000; the height of the building has been reduced nine 
feet, at an estimated saving of $133,000; the plan of the 
special library floor has been changed, at an estimated saving 
of $50,000 ; changes have been made in the design of the 
new Bates Hall, at an estimated saving of 125,000; changes 
have been made in the vestibules, at an estimated saving of 
$15,000 ; changes have been made in the roof, at an estimated 
saving of $15,000 ; changes have been made in decorative 
work, and in the whole interior finish of the building, that 
must result in a very large saving over the original plans, 

8 City Document Xo. 9. 

but the exact amount of which it is impossible to state with 
accuracy. All these changes have been made with the ap- 
proval and by the advice of the architect : and it is believed 
that they will not take away from the convenience or beauty 
of the structure. Some changes have been made in the de- 
sign of the Blagden-street elevation, which, it is believed, 
have not materially affected the cost of the building, but 
have greatly improved its appearance. 

The total cost of the building when completed will be 
$2,218,8(35, including shelving bat no other furniture. Tak- 
ing into consideration the magnitude and the nature of the 
work this cost is not excessive. Exclusive of the court, the 
building together with the platform covers an acre and one- 
half and contains 4,312,158 cubic feet. The superficial area 
of flooring is four acres, and of the ceilings four and one- 
half acres. The present stack, which can be nearly doubled 
when more room is needed, is built to hold fifteen miles of 
shelving, while rive miles more are required in other parts of 
the structure. The cost of the building by the cubic foot 
compares favorably with other public buildings and with the 
best class of fire-proof business buildings. The cost of post- 
offices and custom houses erected Iry the government varies 
from fifty cents to one dollar — the cost of the courthouse 
and post-office at Hartford reaching the latter sum. The 
library building when completed will have cost but fifty-one 
and four tenths cents a cubic foot. 

The old library on Hoylston street was built to accommo- 
date 22O.UO0 books, and afforded b',868 square feet of room 
for students and readers, making the cost for housing each 
book $1.1"). The new building is built to contain 2,000,00! > 
volumes with 32,900 square feet of room for students and 
readers, making the cost for housing each book $1.10. 

There are at present more than 220,000 books in the old 
library, but they are not properly and conveniently housed, 
as the real capacity of the building does not exceed the 
figures given. 

It must always be remembered that if the architects have 
underestimated the cost of the new library building, there is 
nothing surprising in such a mistake on their part. They 
had no precedents to guide them in their undertaking either 
in this country or in Europe. They were pioneers in the 
attempt to solve the embarrassing problem of how to combine 
in one structure two essentially distinct and different pur- 
poses. They had not only to provide for the proper housing 
of a very large and continually-increasing collection of vol- 
umes, for this they might have found examples to study, or 
to imitate, in the Old World, but they had to endeavor to do 

New Public Library Building. 9 

what has never been attempted, — to make this vast storehouse 
of learning accessible and useful to all the people of a great 
city. And this must be provided for in two ways ; not only 
must ample space be furnished for reading and study to all 
who might seek the building, but convenient arrangements 
must also be devised for the speedy delivery of books to all 
coiners to be taken away from the building for home use. 
This is another innovation in library economy, for which, 
upon anything like a similar grand scale, there is no precedent 
to be found. 

Here we have indeed a difficult and perplexing problem, 
and the Trustees feel that it has been satisfactorily solved. 
But the results have not been obtained by intuition ; nor 
have they sprung Minerva-like from the brain of any one 
man. They are the slow and settled issues of long and 
faithful labors, necessitating modifications and changes, which 
have suggested themselves as the work went on. 

Thus has been developed a building which speaks for 
itself; which has won alike the admiration of instructed archi- 
tects and the approval of cultivated amateurs. The Trus- 
tees, believing this structure to be an honor to our city, and 
a credit to the liberal and far-sighted city government that 
has provided the means for its exterior construction, now 
only ask that its interior may be completed in a manner 
worthy of the noble edifice, and creditable to this wealthy and 
public-spirited community, which has always regarded its 
Public Library as one of its chief civic glories. 

There is yet another consideration bearing upon the cost 
and value of the Public Library building, that was stated so 
well by Mr. Winthrop on the occasion of the dedication of 
the old building, that the Trustees cannot do better than to 
quote his words. Mr. Winthrop said : — 

"But there is another reflection, Mr. Mayor, which more 
than reconciles me to any amount of expenditure which may 
have been honestly incurred in the execution of our trust. 
The building which we are here to dedicate is eminently and 
peculiarly a building for the people, — not only constructed 
at the cost, but designed and arranged for the use, accom- 
modation, and enjoyment of the whole people of Boston. 
Almost all the other public edifices which may be found within 
the limits of our city, though they may be devoted to pur- 
poses in which the many are more or less deeply and directly 
interested, are yet specially and necessarily assigned to the 
occupation and enjoyment of a few. Our convenient and 
comfortable City Hall is for those who, like yourselves, 
gentlemen, may be intrusted, from time to time, with the 
management of municipal affairs. Our massive Court- House 

10 City Document No. 9. 

is for the still smaller number, who are set apart for the ad- 
ministration of civil or of criminal justice. Our excellent 
sohool-houses are for the exclusive occupation of our chil- 
dren. But the edifice within whose walls we are assembled 
is emphatically for the use and enjoyment of all the inhabi- 
tants of Boston. Even the old Cradle of Liberty itself is 
far less frequently and uniformly devoted to the uses of the 
whole people than this new Cradle of Literature and Learn- 
ing will be. A political canvass, or a patriotic celebration, 
or an anniversary festival, may fill that hall ten times, or it 
may be twenty or thirty times a year, — but even then the 
free discussion which justly belongs to all such occasions in- 
volves an element of division and strife, of party, of sect, or 
of section. But this hall will always be open, and always be 
occupied, and the free reading which is to find a place in it 
involves neither contention nor controversy. Those who 
entertain the most discordant opinions may here sit, shoulder 
to shoulder, enjoying their favorite authors as quietly and as 
harmoniously as those authors themselves will repose, side 
by side, when restored to a common shelf." 

The Trustees of the Public Library of the 
City of Boston, 

By Saml. A. B. Abbott, 






1. Metal work; including iron, bronze and bronze 

work, statuary and busts .... 

2. Fixtures ; including electric work, heating and 

ventilation, elevators, plumbing, bells and 
speaking-tubes, and book railway . 

3. Marble and mosaic work; including floors (about 

£ acre), walls, wainscots, trims, and ceilings . 

4. Carpenter and cabinet work; including doors, 

bookcases, screens, and shelving (about 15 
miles in stacks alone), windows and lockers . 

5. Plastering and stucco work; including cornices, 

ceilings, walls (about 2J acres), pilasters, cor- 
bels, and capitals ...... 

6. Floors, other than marble ; including wood, tile, 

stone, concrete, cement, asphalt, and grano- 
lithic ; also wood and stone stair-treads . 

7. Rough interior work ; including Guastavino tile 

arches, terra cotta partitions, fire-proofing, and 
rough carpenter work ..... 

8. Painting ; including wood-finish and decorative 

painting on walls and cornices 

9. Stone- work, interior ...... 

10. Other exterior work; including clock in court, 

sidewalks, arcade ceiling, cellar extensions on 
Boylston street and St. James avenue, columns 
and pedestals lor statuary on Dartmouth street, 

11. Wainscots and bases, other than marble; includ- 

ing brick-tile, wood, Keene cement, and stone 

12. Trims, other than marble ; including stone, wood 

and Keene cement ..... 

13. Brick and tile work; including chimney-pieces 

healths, fireplace linings, terra cotta caps and 
bases, and Volkmar tiles on walls 

14. Carving, stone .... 

15. Hardware ..... 

16. Papier- maclie work 

17. Whitewashing (about 2J acres) . 

18. Contingencies . ... 

Architects' commission, at o% 

Office expenses ; inspectors, watchmen, etc. 

















City Document No. 9. 



1. Metal work; including iron, bronze and bronze 

work, statuary and busts .... 

2. Fixtures; including electric work, heating and 

ventilation, elevators, plumbing, bells and 
speaking-tubes, and book railway . 

3. Marble and mosaic work; including floors (about 

^ acre), walls, wainscots, trims, and ceilings . 

4. Carpenter and cabinet work; including doors, 

bookcases, screens, and shelving (about 15 
miles in stacks alone), windows and lockers . 

5. Plastering and stucco work; including cornices, 

ceilings, walls (about 2£ acres), pilasters, 
corbels, and capitals ..... 
G. Floors, other than marble ; including wood, tile, 
stone, concrete, cement, asphalt, and grano- 
lithic ; also wood and stone stair-treads . 

7. Rough interior work; including Guastavino tile 

arches, terra cotta partitions, fire-proofing, and 
rough carpenter work ..... 

8. Painting; including wood finish and decorative 

painting on walls and cornices 

9. Stone-work, interior ...... 

10. Other exterior work; including clock in court, 

sidewalks, arcade ceiling, cellar extensions on 
Boy lston street and St. James avenue, columns 
and pedestals for statuary on Dartmouth street, 

1 1 . Wainscots and bases, other than marble ; includ- 

ing brick-tile and wood, Keene cement, and 
stone ........ 

12. Trims, other than marble ; including stone, wood, 

and Keene cement ...... 

13. Brick and tile work; including chimney-pieces. 

hearths, fireplace linings, terra cotta caps and 
bases, and Volkmar tiles on walls . 

14. Carving, stone ....... 

15. Hardware ........ 

16. Papier-mache" work ...... 

17. Whitewashing (about 2§ acres) . 

18. Contingencies, about 10% 

Architects' commission, at 5% . 

Office expenses ; inspectors, watchmen, etc. 













74 1 









New Contracts. 
Post & McCord, iron roof, Apr. 12, 1890. 
Lindeman Terra Cotta Roofing Tile Co., tile roofing, May 2, 

Present Condition of Building. 

Facades and interior masonry walls complete. Granite platform 
around building about half built. Fire-proof floors substantially 
complete throughout, with exception of part of stacks C and D. 
Iron roof practically finished. Tile roofing laid on nearly the whole 
of Dartmouth-street slope. Of the interior finish, the marble 
vestibule on Dartmouth street, including marble ceiling vault and 
marble floor ; the walls, floor, and mosaic ceiling (all of marble) 
in the entrance hall ; the marble stairs of the staircase-hall ; and 
the Yorkshire stone stairs of the special library staircase, — are all 

Contract with John T. Scully, dated May, 1888, for piling. 

Amount of contract ...... $7,714 44 

Payments made to date ...... 7,714 44 

Contract with Woodbury & Leighton, dated Aug. 1, 1888, for 
foundations, cut-granite, brick masonry, and iron-work. 

Original contract . 

Net amount added by Special Orde 

Total amount contracted for . 
Payments made to date 

Reserve on work done . 
Work not done 


Contract with R. Guastavino, dated J 
floors (tile arch work). 

Estimated amount of contract 
Payments made to date 

$2,500 00 
7,890 23 

$266,776 00 
46,958 84 

$313,734 84 
303,344 61 

$10,390 23 

ne 25, 1889, for fire-proof 

$71,059 06 
62,677 57 

$8,381 49 


City Document No. 9. 

Reserve on work done 
Work not done 

Balance . 

>5,002 16 
3,379 33 

88,381 -19 

Contract with Woodbury & Leightou, dated July 22, 1889, for 
cut-granite, brick masonry, iron-work, freestone, marble, terra 
cotta, carpenter work, glazing, partition blocks, and rough plumb- 

Original contract .... 
Net amount added by Special Ordeis 

Total amount contracted for . 
Payments made to date 

Reserve on work done . 

Work not done .... 

Balance .... 

78,750 00 
7,672 80 

$50,000 00 
214,831 80 

8686,422 80 
421,591 00 

8264,831 80 

Contract with R. C. Fisher & Co., dated Aug. 21, 1889, for 
marble- work in entrance hall. 

Original contract .... 
Net amount added by Special Orders 

Total amount contracted for . 
Payments made to date 

Reserve on work done . 

Work not done .... 

Balance .... 

$18,600 00 
27,383 75 

$45,983 75 
44,239 25 

. $800 00 
944 50 


81,744 50 

Contract with Battersou, See, & Eisele, dated Aug. 21, 1889, 
for marble-work in staircase hall. 

Original contract . 
Net amount deducted 

Total amount contracted for 
Payments made to date . 

Reserve on work done . 
Work not done 

869,173 00 
9,400 00 

859,773 00 
11,900 00 

$2,100 00 
45,773 00 

Balance . 

$47,874 00 

Appendix. 15 

Contract with Post & McCord, dated April 12, 1890, for iron 

Original contract $35,000 00 

Net amount added by Special Orders . 8,732 43 

Total amount contracted for . . . $43,732 43 

Payments to date 82,020 21 

Reserve on work done . . . 810,673 40 

Work not done 1,038 82 

Balance 811,712 22 

Contract with Lindeman Terra Cotta Roofing Tile Co., dated 
May 2, 1890, for tile roofing. 

Original contract $35,000 00 

Total amount contracted for . . . $35,000 00 

Payments to date 11,263 84 

Reserve on work done .... $3,754 61 
Work not done 19,981 55 

Balance. ... . . . $23,736 16 

General Financial Statement, Jan. 1, 1891. 

Amount of appropriation May 1, 1887 . $368,854 89 

Amount of loan authorized bv Statute, 

approved March 1, 1889 . '. . . 1,000,000 00 

Total appropriations .... $1,368,85489 

Amount of original contracts . $1,182,072 50 
Net amount added to contracts 

by Special Orders . . . 81,347 82 

Miscellaneous construction . . 4,412 16 

$1,267,832 48 
Architects' commission on the above . 63,391 62 

Office expenses and incidentals, Superin- 
tendent, Watchman, Clerk . . 22,146 03 
Balance at disposal of Trustees . . 15,484 76 

$1,368,854 89 


City Document Xo. 9. 

Payments to date on contracts, including 
Special Orders, and on miscellaneous 
construction ..... 

Payments to date on architects' commis- 
sion ....... 

Payments to date on general office ex- 
penses and incidentals 

Reserve on work done .... 874,830 17 

Work not yet done on contracts already 

made '.293,839 23 

Architects' commission on above two 

items .... 

Balance at disposal of Trustees 

Balance unexpended 

. 11,937 81 
. 15,484 76 

§899,163 08 
51,458 81 

22,146 03 

396,091 97 

81,368,854 R9 

The principal items of labor and material which have gone into 
the building during the year 1890 are as follows : — 

Contract with Woodbury & Leighton, dated July 22, 1889. 

Cut- granite 

Common (including hollow) brick 

Perth Amboy speckled brick 

Perth Amboy court brick . 

Yorkshire stone 

Terra cotta cornice . 

Terra cotta in court . 

Iron beams .... 

lion columns .... 

Concrete ..... 

Granite carving (main cornice, imposts, 
architraves and soffits of arches, book- 
marks, key -blocks, and balconies). 

Marble carving, Dartmouth- street vestibule. 

45,700 cubic feet. 
2.928 M. 

167 " 

144 " 

421 cubic feet. 

621 linear feet. 

435 pieces. 

101 tons. 

147 " 
20,827 cubic feet. 

Contract with Guastavino Fire Proof Construction Company, 
dated June 25, 1889. 
Tile arches and domes .... 75,700 square feet. 

Iron beams ...... 78 tons. 

Skewbacks cut ...... 1,400 linear feet. 

Contract with R. C 

Marble floor 

Yellow Iowa marble . 

Marble mosa ; c . 

Fisher & Co., dated Aug. 21, 1889. 

2.342 square feet. 
3,500 cubic feet. 
2,200 square feet. 

Contract with Batterson, See, & Eisele, dated Aug. 21, 1889. 
Echallion marble 875 cubic feet. 



Contract with Post & McCord, dated April 12, 1890. 

Iron roof trusses 
Iron plate girders 
Iron beams 
Iron angles, T irons, etc. 


90 tons. 
144 tons. 
100,000 pounds. 

Contract with Lindeman Terra Cotta Rooting Tile Co., dated 
May 2, 1890. 

Roof tiles laid 9,600 

Copper gutter laid ..... 625 linear feet. 

^Signed) Alexander S. Jenney, 

Clerk of the Works. 



Bangor, Me., Custom House . 
Baltimore, Md., Court House 
Buffalo, N.Y., Custom House 
Chelsea Marine Hospital 
Cleveland Marine Hospital 
Detroit Custom House . 
Indianapolis Custom House . 
Louisville, Ky., Custom House 
New Haven, Conn., Custom House 
Pittsburg, Pa , Custom House 
Portsmouth, N.H., Custom House 
Providence, R.I., Custom House 
Richmond, Va., Custom House 
San Francisco, Cal., Custom 
House .... 

Contract price. cost. 

. 847,549 36 

$103,698 13 

. 112,808 04 

205,176 97 

. 117,769 65 

191,764 34 

. 122,185 39 

233,015 31 

25,000 00 

87,703 66 

. 103,160 66 

190,933 00 

98,983 78 

166,240 00 

. 148,158 00 

246,640 75 

j 88,000 00 

158,256 00 

39,866 00 

99,767 00 

82,728 00 

145,046 91 

. 151,000 00 

209,841 71 

. 110,000 00 

194,404 47 


. 400,000 00 

628,581 49 


L > 




'; ■ 



' ^ V