Opened in 1904, the Blackstone Branch of the Chicago Public Library bears six Roman columns at the entrance that hint at the unique majesty inside this Hyde Park destination. “We call it one of the jewels of the Chicago Public Library system,” said Lesa Dowd, conservator for special collections at the Chicago Public Library. “Its craftsmanship and architecture are just exquisite.” The original bronze doors open up to the Tiffany style dome rotunda. Overhead are four restored oil-painted murals — “Labor,” “Art,” “Science” and “Literature” — by 1893 World's Columbian Exposition muralist Oliver Dennet Grover. With its mosaic tile, even the floor is ornate. Marble columns flank either doorway to the two reading rooms off the rotunda, and original mahogany moldings and brass lamps adorn the library throughout. Awaiting a final determination in September, the library has been recommended for landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. “It's a great recognition because the Blackstone was our first branch,” said library director of marketing Ruth Lednicer. The branch is the only building in the library's extensive system that was procured for nothing; the land and building were donated by the widow of Chicago railroad magnate Timothy Blackstone in 1900.
Visit: Blackstone Branch, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave., noon to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (closed Sunday), or go to chipublib.org.
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