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Name:  Central Public Library
Address:  1301 Olive Street
Architectural Firm/Architect:   Cass Gilbert, New York
Alterations:  Additions - Steedman Architectural Carol McDonald 1930; Garner Rare Book Room and the New Children´s Department Room 1969
Designation: City Landmark
The St. Louis Public Library began in 1865 as a division of the public school system, inheriting valuable earlier collections. Its early quarters were in the O´Fallon Polytechnic building and later in the present Board of Education Building.

Its present central building was opened in 1912 on the site of the old Exposition building. The cost was about $1.5 million, of which a third was from a gift by Andrew Carnegie.

The building is one of the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi. Its architect was chosen through a national competition. It is a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance design and is notable for its marble interior halls and the decorative ceilings in its principal rooms. On its exterior walls, the structure bears carved inscriptions of famous authors and printers, as well as medallions representing the signs of the zodiac, mythological characters and the seals of St. Louis and the library.

The flagpoles are modeled after those of St. Mark´s in Venice. The library, with its neighboring park, is an oasis of greenery and quiet in the busy Central Business District. The library and the neighboring Christ Church Cathedral and Shell Building create one of downtown´s most comfortable architectural experiences.

Gilbert, Cass
Steedman Architectual, George Fox

Central Public Library



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This site was made possible by: the City of St. Louis Planning and Urban Design Agency and
the City of St. Louis Community Information Network.

This site was funded in part by Federal funds administered by the Missouri State Historical Preservation Office, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, The National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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