Library Building and Art
The Original Building - 1894 to 1896
From the Barre-Montpelier Argus and Patriot January 8, 1896
“The Main Street entrance to the building is by a concrete walk and broad granite steps. The two pillars on each side of the entrance are of highly polished North Conway granite, and the portico is lined with Tennessee marble.
The vestibule floor is of marble mosaic in ornamental patterns. The wainscoting is of white Rutland marble with a base of black marble from Isle La Motte. All of the woodwork on the main floors, including tables, paneling, wainscoting, floors and stairways is of the finest quartered oak.
Passing from the vestibule, one comes to the delivery-room with the reading room on the right and the librarian’s room on the left. The reading room is twenty by forty feet in dimension, lighted by seven plate-glass windows. The librarians’ room is twenty feet square and is fitted with a pretty oak fireplace.
The main book room is built in the alcove style with six alcoves on the main floor and six in the gallery. It is lighted by 16 plate-glass windows and skylight twenty by thirty feet. The building is noticeable for the admirable light that is obtained in every room, and in fact, every alcove, nook and corner. In the book room is a massive mantel, ten feet high, of Rutland marble, and with a plate glass mirror over the mantel shelf. The Corinthian columns match perfectly the rest of the building. The plate glass windows in this room and in the reading room are double-hung with weights in an ingenious manner so that the double or inside windows slide into a pocket out-of-sight when not in use.
The floors of the lavatories are of marble mosaic with wainscoted marble five feet high.
The architect of this splendid building was A.P. Cutting of Worcester, MA and the builders were J.W. Bishop & Co. of Providence, R.I. and Worcester, MA.”
The Patrick J. Leahy Wing - 2000 to 2001
To address overcrowding in the Library, to accommodate modern technology needs, and most importantly in response to the long-standing and urgent need for an above-ground Children's Library, the Library fundraised extensively and constructed the Patrick J. Leahy wing.
The plan called for construction of a 6,370 square foot addition and renovations to the basement, first and second floors of the existing building. Gossens Bachman Architects designed the addition, which was then built by J.A. Morrissey Inc. contractors.
The facade of the addition is of locally sourced granite from Rock of Ages Quarry. The more modern design blends seamlessly with the original Library construction. The Children's Library, now on the second floor, is filled with light and provides a beautiful space for parents and children to visit again and again. As part of this project, the original skylight, covered for more than 30 years, was renewed to its original glory, the vestibule mosaic was refurbished and the original building generally restored to its original detail. Gossens Bachman architects won the AIA Vermont Excellence in Architecture award in 2004 for the design of the Library addition.
The addition houses the Library's nonfiction collection and public computer area as well as the Children's Library and the Hayes conference room.
The total cost of the addition and renovations came in at $ 2.4 million and would not have been possible without grants secured by Senator Leahy, as well as the fundraising efforts of the committee members, library trustees, staff, volunteers, and donors as well as support from our member towns.
- facts and figures from The Kellogg-Hubbard Library and Patrick J. Leahy Wing: A New Chapter
The Bittermann Kitzmiller Room Friezes
The Kitzmiller fiction room on the Library's second-floor houses casts of three beautiful historical friezes: a section of the Parthenon friezes, as well as Donatello's Cantoria and Luca Della Robbia's Cantoria.
In 1899, the friezes were given to the T.W. Wood Art Gallery by the late Samuel M. Jones, Esq. of Morristown New Jersey. They came to the Kellogg-Hubbard when the Gallery moved into the Library building from 1953-1985.
The walls that are parallel to Main Street feature casts of portions of the Parthenon friezes. The originals were sculpted under the direction of Phidias in the 5th-century BC and adorned the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, a temple to honor the goddess Athena. Additional sections of the Parthenon frieze replicas are located in the front lobby and the rear stairwell. The casts in the Library appear to come mainly from the Elgin Marbles, though the original of at least one section, known as the "Ergastines" or "weavers" is housed in the Louvre.
Parthenon frieze detail from the Library lobby. This section is understood to depict (seated from left to right) Hermes, Dionysus, Demeter and Ares.
A replica of the finest Renaissance bas-relief sculpture is found above the windows that face School Street. Known as the Cantoria, the original was sculpted by Luca Della Robbia between 1431-1440 for the chorus gallery in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. It depicts Psalm 150 with figures in both classical and contemporary dress.
Finally, a replica of the façade of the organ gallery for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is found on the wall facing the main stairwell (facing northeast). Also known as the Cantoria the original was sculpted by Donatello Bardi around 1433.
The Cantorie were always intended to be viewed together and were both originally part of The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) in Florence, Italy. The originals are now on display in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
A Literary Mouse
We are proud to display a wonderful sculpture created in 2016 by Montpelier artist Ryan Mays, and generously commissioned and donated by Jay and Barbara White. The sculpture makes for a beautiful addition to the Main Street entrance of the library. Be sure to stop by and see it in person!
The Library Gardens - Perennial Bed and Planter
The Library is very lucky to have a partnership with the UVM Extension Master Gardener program. Our School Street perennial bed and planter are lovingly tended as an official volunteer project.
Master Gardener volunteers are grassroots educators who extend the services of the university to all while advancing the “principle of true education to teach people to think for themselves.”