Posts Tagged ‘Quincy MA’

We are a national favorite. In a 2007 survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects and Harris Interactive in celebration of AIA’s 150th anniversary, Americans ranked Richardson’s Crane Memorial Library 43rd out of 150 works of architecture recently selected as America’s Favorite Architecture.

And MSN city guides included the Thomas Crane Library on its 2008 list of the “America’s 10 coolest public libraries“. We’re about halfway down the page, right after the New York Public Library. Check out this slideshow of the “10 coolest.”

Additional Reading

What follows is a list of sources you might consult for information about the Crane Memorial Library in Quincy Massachusetts. This original building of the Thomas Crane Public Library was designed by famous American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and dedicated to its benefactor Thomas Crane in 1883. Best known for Trinity Church in Boston Massachusetts nine miles north of Quincy, H.H. Richardson considered the Crane Memorial one of his most successful architectural designs.

This bibliography is broken into two major types of generally available sources that will overlap somewhat: cataloged print sources, which includes a (very) partial list of extant photographs of the Crane Memorial Library; and online sources.

I have organized the bibliography into sections designed to help anyone interested in learning more about this building, the man who designed it, and the people and circumstances who made it possible–beginning with general works and ending with special collections.

Do a subject search using “Richardson, H” in a major library catalog like worldcat.org and you will find plenty of titles about America’s first celebrity architect. My objective here is to choose and annotate what seem to me a few of the better, and various types of resources.

In addition to this selective rather than comprehensive bibliography, I have listed people alive today whose knowledge of this building and this subject lend depth, color, and immediacy to any study of the Crane Library, and the larger than life architect who designed it.

Special thanks for this project go to the late Allen Smith, Reference Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Boston, Massachusetts. Professor Smith set the gold standard of librarianship for his students, inviting all of us to bring rigor, humor, and imagination to our work and to our profession. He will be missed–and remembered–by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

If you have any corrections, suggestions, or observations, please leave us a post. Likewise if you have visited the library and would like to share your thoughts or impressions. We would love to hear from you.

Library Hours:

Monday -Thursday 9-9
Friday and Saturday 9-5
Sunday 1-5
Main phone number: 617.376.1301

Note: If you are interested in material shelved in our Quincy Room, please call ahead to our reference department for information about our special collections. Click here for a copy of our Quincy Room use policy, and here for an explanation of why we may decline a request to use this material.

Thank you.
Jessie Thuma (Library staff)

General Works: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Brittanica Online and Encyclopaedia Brittanica offer good overviews of H.H. Richardson; Frederick Law Olmsted; John La Farge; the Adams family; along with selected readings on Charles Francis Adams Jr.

These articles place each figure into his historical context, and look beyond the boundaries of Quincy and the walls of the Crane Memorial Library for a perspective of their artistic and civic accomplishments.

The entry on Richardson (Richardson, Henry Hobson) in Brittanica Online is written by James O’Gorman, the Grace Slack McNeil Professor of the History of American Art, Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and author of H.H. Richardson: Architectural Forms for an American Society and several other authoritative monographs on H.H. Richardson also listed in this bibliography. The Grove Dictionary of Art, available in print and online, includes brief bibliographies for additional reading.

One of the First Rules of Reference is this: always expect to find an encyclopedia about the specific subject you are researching. Even if one does not exist, you will turn up related material on the way to finding that out.

Bingo! Not only is there ONE encyclopedia of American Architecture–there are more than a dozen. I have chosen Packard’s Encyclopedia of American Architecture because it features a picture of H.H. Richardson’s most famous work–Trinity Church in Boston–on the cover. And Leland Roth’s Concise History of American Architecture because it IS concise, and because Roth makes powerful mention of the Crane Library in this quote you will see towards the top of our page on the Library’s history:

“Perhaps Richardson’s most representative building is the Crane Memorial Library, Quincy, Massachusetts, 1880-83… The general form of the building is simplified to one comprehensive shape with a minimum of elements, each of which articulates a particular interior function: window-wall for reading room to the right, entrance arch, tower for a staircase leading to offices behind the second story gable, and raised windows in the stack room to the left. Horizontal lines and bands of brownstone organize the composition. The ornament, though inspired by French Romanesque and Byzantine sources, is broadly scaled and bold rather than archaeological. The walls are a continuous textured surface of quarry-faced granite and brownstone, creating a visual continuity as do the textured shingles in the houses.”— Leland M. Roth. A Concise History of American Architecture. p167-8.

Roth has also written American Architecture: a history published in 2001, that builds on his earlier work.

The Britannica encyclopedia of American art. (1973). Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corp.; distribution by Simon and Schuster, New York.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (1998). The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Encyclopædia Britannica online. (1999). Chicago, IL: Britannica Online. http://www.britannica.com/

Packard, R. T., Korab, B., & Hunt, W. D. (1995). Encyclopedia of American architecture. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Roth, L. M. (2001). American architecture a history. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.

Roth, L. M. (1979). A concise history of American architecture. New York: Harper & Row. (portions of this book are available through books.google.com)

Turner, J. S. (1999). The Grove dictionary of art. London: Macmillan. http://www.groveart.com/tdaonline/index.asp.


Great Buildings Online http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Crane_Library.html.

Architecture Week and Archiplanet have joined forces to create what GreatBuildings.com calls “the best architecture reference source on the web”. Whether it is or not, this site offers a reasonably easy to navigate interface, with directions on various search options and an alphabetical list of buildings. Click on Crane Memorial Hall and you get a brief description of the Library, along with an assortment of images including an aerial view of the Library today.

International Architecture Database. http://eng.archinform.net/index.htm. Focused on 20ieth century architecture, the International Architecture Database is self described as “originally emerging from records of interesting building projects from architecture students, has …become the largest online-database about worldwide architects and buildings from past to present.” Search indices by keyword, project name, architect, town, or search query form for information on more than 16000 built and unrealized projects. For many entries you will not only get the name, address, keywords and information about further literature, but also images, comments, book reviews, and internal as well as external links. This site, as well as the one following–greatbuildings.com–showcases its links to RIBA–the Royal Institute of British Architects.


If you could only read one book about the architecture of HH Richardson, what would it be? Rensselaer, M. (1969). Henry Hobson Richardson and his works. New York: Dover Publications.
Originally published in a limited edition of 500 copies in 1888, two years after Richardson’s death, this “appreciative presentation” of the architect’s life and work, is widely referenced by subsequent authors who have also written about H.H. Richardson. Reprinted in 1969 with a new introduction by William Morgan, Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is credited with penning a “basic biography and a contemporary record” described by Morgan as “the foundation of all scholarship on the subject.”

Rensselaer, herself remarkable as a distinguished female architectural critic, offers a brief but interesting treatment of the Crane Memorial Library which she describes as “the most perfect expression of the general scheme upon which all five [of Richardson’s libraries] are based.” A personal friend of H.H. Richardson, Rensselaer included drawings and plans, since destroyed, of projects that Richardson never finished. These, along with other illustrations and pictures, make Henry Hobson Richardson and his work an evocation of the past, as well as a Richardson biography that stood alone until 1936 when Henry-Russell Hitchcock published his book titled The architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson, New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Narrowing the focus: Other biographies and reference works specifically about Richardson, Richardson and libraries, and Richardson’s influence on American architecture

Breisch, K. A. (2003). Henry Hobson Richardson and the small public library in America: a study in typology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT.

Kenneth Breisch, professor of architectural history at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, zeros in on one of Richardson’s most successful types of design, and examines the small public library in the context of the literacy movement of the mid 19th century, and the middle class philanthropy that made many of these libraries possible. To get a taste of what this book offers, and a glimpse at Breisch’s “notes” and index, check out the digitalized portions of the book available through books.google.com.

Floyd, M. H., & Rocheleau, P. (1997). Henry Hobson Richardson a genius for architecture. New York: Monacelli Press.

A graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts and a long time professor of art history at Tufts University in Boston, Margaret Floyd has written a coffee table biography of Richardson and his impact on American architecture that is a wonderful browsing book, full of color photographs that illustrate the author’s premise that Richardson gave Romanesque a whole new and uniquely American interpretation. Published shortly after Floyd’s death from cancer, this book is widely available at libraries, but not available from Amazon.com.

Larson, P. C., & Brown, S. M. (1988). The Spirit of H.H. Richardson on the midland prairies regional transformations of an architectural style. Great Plains environmental design series. Minneapolis: University Art Museum, University of Minnesota.

One of only a few architects to have a style named after them, Richardson’s revival of Romanesque as Richardsonian Romanesque found particular favor in the midwest, and in Washington state after a 1889 fire in Seattle fire destroyed 116 acres of downtown buildings.

The Spirit of H.H. Richardson on the midland prairies regional transformations of an architectural style, by Paul Clifford Lawson, and Distant corner Seattle architects and the legacy of H.H. Richardson by Houston architect Jeffrey Ochsner size up Richardson’s influence during his life and after his death. For a more comprehensive treatment of Richardson, check out Ochsner’s “definitive guide” titled H.H. Richardson, complete architectural works, published in 1982.

Ochsner, J. K. (1982). H.H. Richardson, complete architectural works. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ochsner, J. K., & Andersen, D. A. (2003). Distant corner Seattle architects and the legacy of H.H. Richardson. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

O’Gorman, J. F., & Richardson, H. H. (1987). H.H. Richardson architectural forms for an American society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wellesley College professor James O’Gorman has put together an impressive and award winning body of work on HH Richardson. In his 1988 review of O’Gorman’s Architectural forms for an American society, author and art historian Kenneth Breisch describes this book not as just another monograph on every one of Richardson’s designs, but “an attempt to embrace the meaning of Richardson’s work as a whole.” (Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 94-97, retrieved November 25 @http://snipurl.com/1u810).

Taken as a whole, these three titles by James O’Gorman attempt to interpret the life and work of an architect whose influence was profound, but who wrote little about his own work, and died at the height of his popularity after a relatively short career.

O’Gorman, J. F., Richardson, H. H., & Robinson, C. (1997). Living architecture: a biography of H.H. Richardson. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

O’Gorman, J. F. (1991). Three American architects Richardson, Sullivan, and Wright, 1865-1915. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Other major players: John La Farge , Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Norcross Bothers

As frequent collaborators for HH Richardson, the decorative works of John La Farge and the landscape designs of Frederick Law Olmsted are mentioned and at times treated in some detail in books about Richardon and Richardson’s works.

In addition to being a master craftsman in the art of stained glass, La Farge was also a prominent painter and a writer. The Grove Encyclopedia of Art offers both an overview of La Farge’s life and work, and a list of additional reading suggestions.

Frederick Law Olmsted is the subject of the 1999 National Bestseller and New York Times Notable Book of the Year A Clearing in the distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th century, by Witold Rybczynski. Although this book makes no mention of the Crane Library, landscaped by Olmsted’s firm, Stanley Weintraub, writing for the Wall Street Journal, describes this biography as one that “defines and evokes Olmsted as an American original.”

For a look at Frederick Law Olmsted’s best known work in the Boston area–the Emerald Necklace–check out the Library of Congress American Memories website, which features 2800 glass lantern side images of the American Landscape from the 1850s through the 1920s from the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Referred to by James O’Gorman as Richardson’s “master builder” the Norcross Brothers of Worcester are also major players in the architectural landscape of Massachusetts. Two good sources of information about this construction firm are the Harvard University Library catalog, and the Norcross Brothers own source list on the web.

La Farge bibliography from Grove Dictionary of Art online: “La Farge, John” Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, November 26, 2007, http://0-www.groveart.com.library.simmons.edu:80/

C. Waern: John La Farge: Artist and Writer (London, 1896)

G. Kobbé: ‘John La Farge and Winslow Homer’, NY Herald, 4 Dec 1910, mag. sect., p. 11 [contains obituary of Winslow Homer by La Farge]

R. Cortissoz: John La Farge: A Memoir and a Study (Boston, 1911)

R. B. Katz: John La Farge as Painter and Critic (dissertation, Cambridge, MA, Radcliffe College, 1951)

H. B. Weinberg: The Decorative Work of John La Farge (New York and London, 1977)

K. A. Foster: ‘The Flowers of John La Farge’, Amer. A. J., xi/3 (1979), pp. 4–37

H. Adams: ‘John La Farge’s Discovery of Japanese Art’, A. Bull., lxvii (1985), pp. 449–85

H. Adams and others: John La Farge (New York, 1987)

John La Farge: Watercolours and Drawings (exh. cat. by J. L. Yarnall, New York, Hudson River Mus.; Utica, NY, Munson-Williams-Proctor Inst.; Chicago, IL, Terra Mus. Amer. A.; 1990–91)

J. L. Yarnall: ‘Souvenirs of Splendor: John La Farge and the Patronage of Cornelius Vanderbilt House, New York’, Amer. A. J., xxvi/1/2 (1994), pp. 66–105

Nature Vivante: The Still Lifes of John La Farge (exhibit catalog by J. L. Yarnall, New York, Jordan-Volpe Gal., 1995)

Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted: Boston’s Emerald Necklace, part of the Library of Congress website American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920. Retrieved November 26, 2007 from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/mhsdhtml/olmsted.html

Rybczynski, W. (1999). A clearing in the distance Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the nineteenth century. New York: Scribner.

The Norcross Brothers of Worcester

Norcross Brothers of Worcester: projects and source lists 1864-1924, retrieved November 26, 2007 from http://snipurl.com/1u9rk.
From the website: “All this information is based on family stories, or documents listed in the References. Official documentation is not common except for recent generations (1850 or later) and may not necessarily be referenced herein.”

Resources particular to the Crane Memorial Library: The Quincy Room at the Thomas Crane Public Library

Most of the Richardson books listed in this bibliography may be found in the Quincy Room at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy Massachusetts. Also known as the Local History Collection, the Quincy Room contains books on Quincy history, and materials written by Quincy authors, native born or resident. The collection also includes biographical works about prominent Quincy people, and about the Library itself.

“Some are taken from the collections of famous Quincy historical figures,” says head reference librarian Linda Beeler. “Some have signatures, others are unique copies of things no longer in print.”

In 1822, Quincy native and former president John Adams deeded his personal collection of books to the City of Quincy. For lack of appropriate storage space and conditions, these rare and highly valuable materials were transferred to the Boston Public Library in 1894 where they now comprise the special collection known as the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library. This collection is a gem for anyone interested in learning more about the Adams family, including former Thomas Crane Library trustee Charles Francis Adams Jr, the civil war veteran and financier who was instrumental in securing a commission with Richardson to build the Crane Memorial Library.

For more information about this collection, visit the John Adams Library website at http://www.johnadamslibrary.org/

As far as material specifically about the Crane Memorial Library and its architect HH Richardson, the Quincy Room offers one unique resource–the 1979 thesis by then Columbia University student Faith S. Schmidt, whose description of the interior of what is now referred to as “the Richardson Room” is highly detailed and informative, and densely illustrated with pictures and drawings. The architecture of the Crane Library by H.H. Richardson also includes a bibliography of uncataloged items, some of which still exist in the Library’s administrative offices.

Widely available at the Library itself, as well as shelved in the Quincy Room is the 2001 Dedication Booklet, written by Jessie Thuma and originally distributed as a program guide to those who attended the dedication ceremony for the recent 16 million dollar addition to the Library. Parts of the narrative of this booklet, intended to offer the casual Library visitor a little background and information about the old and new library buildings, are included in the history page of this website. The booklet does not contain any bibliographic information or list of references or resources. Those resources are however covered in this bibliography.

Rare, but not unique to the Quincy Room collection, is one of the 500 original copies of Van Rensselaer’s 1888 biography of H.H. Richardson titled Henry Hobson Richardson and his works. The Quincy Room also includes the 1936 edition of Henry-Russell Hitchcock’s Richardson biography The architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, as well as various collections of (reproduced) drawings and plans by Richardson on paper and on microfilm.

See also the 1883 address by Charles Frances Adams Jr at the dedication of Richardson’s Crane Memorial Library. This address is also a brief biographical outline of Thomas Crane, the man for whom the Library is named and by whose family the Library is endowed. Adams address is available in full through the Google Books Project. Enter the title of the work into a Google Book search and save yourself a trip to the Library.

Shelved nearby is the 1961 The Crane Library(available here in pdf format) written for the Library Trustees by Draper Hill.

Be sure to look at Charles Francis Adams’ autobiography, with a memorial by Henry Cabot Lodge.

Though not as famous as the stained glass windows by John La Farge, the carvings by Joseph Arthur Coletti on the 1939 addition to the Library are considered important examples of this sculptor’s work. Available in the Quincy Room is a 1968 descriptive catalog of Coletti’s artwork complete with plates and pictures.

For more information about Coletti, please see the Boston Public Library’s special Coletti Collection, described in more detail under Other Special Collections.

Available in the Quincy Room and in the Library general collection are copies of books about Richardson by Floyd, Breisch, O’Gorman, and Ochsner. Available in the Library’s general collection are several books about John La Farge, including Royal Cortissoz 1911 edition of John La Farge, a memoir and a study.

Adams, C. F. (1883). Address of Charles Francis Adams, Jr. and proceedings at the dedication of the Crane Memorial Hall, at Quincy, Mass., May 30, 1882. Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, University Press.

Adams, C. F., & Lodge, H. C. (1916). Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915; an autobiography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Coletti, J., & Priest, A. (1968). The sculpture of Joseph Coletti. New York: Macmillan.

Hill, L. D., & Whitehill, W. M. (1962). The Crane library. Quincy, Mass: Trustees of the Thomas Crane Public Library

Schmidt, F. S.(1979). The architecture of the Crane Library by H.H. Richardson (Thesis, Columbia University, 1979).

Van Rensselaer, S. (1888). Henry Hobson Richardson and his works. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. Limited edition of 500 copies.

Other special collections

The John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library in Boston, MA. http://www.johnadamslibrary.org/: “Browse and search 3,500 books, read thousands of handwritten notes, and learn about one remarkable founding father.”

Joseph Arthur Coletti (1898-1973) Collection at the Boston Public Library
“Coletti, a noted sculptor and assistant to John Singer Sargent, created many pieces located in Massachusetts, the United States, and Europe. He created the bust of John Deferrari, a benefactor of the Boston Public Library, now located in the Boston Room of the Johnson Building. The Collection contains drawings, photographs, papers, and personal memorabilia.” http://www.bpl.org/research/special/collections.htm#coletti

Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts
Harvard University boasts one of the biggest and best library collections in the world. Harvard University is also the site of two buildings designed by H.H. Richardson: Sever Hall and Austin Hall. It should come as no surprise then that Harvard has an extensive collection of works by and about Henry Hobson Richardson. Some of these, which date back to the early 1880’s, have restricted availability. In addition to first editions of works about Richardson, Harvard also owns a large collection–more than 5000 items–of Richardson’s drawings, plans, and images. The bulk of these were donated to the University in 1942 by Henry Richardson Shepley of Boston.

A description of the collection is available online at nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.Hough:hou00434 . This site provides information about access, the scope and content of the collection, and related collections, including the material that belongs to H.H. Richardson’s successor firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbot. It also includes a list of all the drawings in the collection. Searching the Harvard Library Hollis catalog using the keywords Richardson, Henry Hobson, you will find more than 250 items, distributed throughout the University’s library and collection system.

Photographs and images

The Parker Collection, Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy Massachusetts. A unique local history resource, the Parker Collection consists of more than 2000 lantern slides taken by City Inspector and self appointed Quincy historian Warren S Parker that record the life and landscape of Quincy circa the 1890’s through the 1930’s. Among this collection are more than a dozen slides of the Thomas Crane Library.

Acquired by the library in 1945, the Parker Collection, a small selection of which can be viewed online, also contains copies of deeds, maps, scrapbooks, biographical notes and newspaper clippings on Quincy subjects. Mr. Parker was an avid student of Quincy history and his position as City Building Inspector for many years gave him access to records not ordinarily available. Much of this material is fragile, therefore its use is restricted to those doing serious research. Indexes are available in the Reference Department to identify materials of interest.

American Architecture
Extensive collection of images of American architecture by various photographers, a work in progress hosted by Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Digital archive of American architecture

Boston College. Color slides copyright Proffessor Jeffery Howe.

O’Gorman, J. F., & Richardson, H. H. (1974). H.H. Richardson and his office, a centennial of his move to Boston, 1874 selected drawings : [exhibition organized by the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Harvard College Library, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, October 23-December 8, 1974, Albany Institute of History and Art, January 7-February 23, 1975, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C., The National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, March 21-June 22, 1975 : catalogue]. [Cambridge, Mass.]: Dept. of Print. and Graphic Arts, Harvard College Library.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, & Richardson, H. H. (1970). Furniture designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. Boston: The Museum.

Photographs Collected by Henry Hobson Richardson, 1870-1885 (inclusive): An Inventory. Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Harvard Design School. Fascinating look at images that captured Richardson’s own imagination and interest.

Journals and articles

In 1973, the Society of Architectural Historians devoted its entire May issue to examining the architecture of H.H. Richardson and his contemporaries in Boston and vicinity. This issue is available at the Harvard University Library:

Society of Architectural Historians. Journal, vol. 32:2, May 1973; [special issue on architecture of H.H. Richardson and his contemporaries in Boston and vicinity.] Philadelphia, Pa., 1973. 192 p. illus., plans. 28 cm.

James O’Gorman’s 1987 book H.H. Richardson architectural forms for an American society cites articles about Richardson in its extensive bibliography. Likewise, in Henry Hobson Richardson and the small public library in America: a study in typology, Kenneth Breisch points an interested researcher in the direction of articles and old newspaper accounts that mention or pertain to the Crane Memorial Library.

These include the Harper’s Weekly article published in 1883 that describes the Crane Memorial Library as “the best Village library in the United States”. Harper’s Weekly 27 (1883) 251.

Newspapers: Other sources of articles about the Crane Memorial Library include issues dating back to 1837 of The Patriot Ledger Newspaper, available at the Thomas Crane Public Library on microfilm.

More recent news articles about H.H. Richardson and the Thomas Crane Library have been written by the 1996 Pulitzer prize winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe newspaper Robert Campbell. Campbell’s articles, a sampling of which are listed below, are searchable through the Library’s database.

Campbell, R. and Vanderwarker, P. (2004, December 12). Turning a page :[3 Edition]. Boston Globe, p. 46. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from Boston Globe database. (Document ID: 762044831).

Campbell, R. (2007, February 25). Which is the fairest of them all?; The buildings we love best :[3 Edition]. Boston Globe,p. N.4. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from Boston Globe database. (Document ID: 1224160911).

Campbell, R. (2007, January 21). A struggle to save the H.H. Richardson House; Group wants famous architect’s former home to make endangered list :[3 Edition]. Boston Globe, p. N.4. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from Boston Globe database. (Document ID: 1201031091).

Campbell, R. (2001, June 7). In Brookline, uncertain fate for legendary architect’s home: [3 Edition]. Boston Globe, p. D.6. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from Boston Globe database. (Document ID: 73732969).

Campbell, R. (2002, March 31). Two ways of modernizing handsome old libraries: [3 Edition]. Boston Globe, p. L.5. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from Boston Globe database. (Document ID: 112948176).

For a quick look at Richardson’s influence on the architecture of Seattle–from “ornate to unpretentious” after the fire of 1892–check out this article by Jeffery Ochsner in the November 20, 2003 edition of the Seattle Daily Post:

Ochsner, J and Anderson, D. (2003, November 20) How the Great Fire changed Seattle’s architecture. Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.com. Retreived November 26, 2007 @ http://www.djc.com/news/ae/11151119.html

Hidden Treasures: Places, People, and Things Unpublished

The Library Itself. The Richardson building is open to the public. A working library, it houses newspapers, popular magazines, and back issues of print journals. It is also furnished with some of the chairs and tables designed by HH Richardson, along with armchairs and wing chairs and window seats for hours of comfortable reading and just plain sitting.

The Quincy Room.

In addition to housing the Library’s special collection on local history, The Quincy Room is itself something of a museum piece. Used by Library Trustees for their regular meetings, the room harkens back to the materials and design used in the Richardson building. The table and chairs were designed by Richardson, and portraits of the Crane family hang on the walls.

Library Director Ann McLaughlin. “People love this library and always have”, says McLaughlin, who was instrumental in the concept, design, fundraising and completion of the 2001 addition to the library. Along the way, McLaughlin, who has worked at the library as staff, assistant director and now Director, is a living source of information about the buildings, the library, and its history.

Architect Richard Bertman. As the lead architect on the 2001 CBT addition, Richard Bertman has spent hours, days, and weeks considering the history and design of the Thomas Crane Library. In the course of overseeing the restoration of the interior of the Richardson Building, Bertman could be found down on his hands and knees examining the grain in the original floorboards.

In addition to designing buildings, Bertman is an accomplished artist who has exhibited his whimsical wire and life sized wooden sculptures at the Compton Gallery at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the subject of funny 8 minute long YouTube video produced by his loving son.

The Vertical Files: A Library is full of surprises

Finally, a word of gratitude

…to Thomas Mann, whose Oxford Guide to Library Research helped light the way through the hierarchy of resources listed here. If you are interested in being your own reference librarian, and getting more out of your local library and the Internet, stop by for a free consultation with Mann. The overall organization of his book, and the usefulness of its individual parts and chapters suggests that yes! he really does want you to find what you are looking for. And more besides.
Mann, T., & Mann, T. (1998). The Oxford guide to library research. New York: Oxford University Press.

…and to Allen Smith, professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Boston Massachusetts. “Think of the most specific kind of reference work, then go find it.”–A. Smith

“Oh no! Not another set of reference questions!”Allen’s students

About WordPress

Note: This bibliography is best eaten with Mrs Beeton’s Nice Useful Cake, a slightly sweet accompaniment to history, tea, or milk. In addition to being a Mrs Beeton’s recipe, this cake’s claim to fame is the mixture of toasted sliced almonds, candied ginger, and currants.

Who is Mrs Beeton? She never knew HH Richardson and I doubt she crossed paths with Mrs Rennselaer, but Mrs Beeton (1836-1865) WAS famous for her early Victorian book on Household Management that included recipes, and advice on all aspects of domesticity, from fashion to raising children.

Although she died young of puerperal fever contracted after childbirth, the persona of Mrs Beeton lived on for many years, growing to a ripe and unchanging age of about 55 as her books were continually updated and revised by a succession of ghost writers. Betty Crocker eventually got the best of Mrs Beeton, but thanks to the digitalization of Household Management, recipes and sundry advice from one of the most famous cookery writers in British history are just a keyboard click away.

Mrs Beeton’s Nice Useful Cake (translated in US measurements)
3 1/3 c flour
2t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1 stick of softened butter
1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs

1 1/4 c milk

1 c currants
3/4 cups sliced or slivered almonds, toasted if you want to
1/3 c chopped crystallized ginger

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well. Add flour mixture and milk to the creamed butter sugar and eggs, alternating the wet and dry ingredients. Mix in the currants, almonds, and ginger.

Transfer batter to well buttered tin. Bake at 350 for about 35-50 minutes.

Thanks–from the staff of the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy Massachusetts.


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Distinctive Design
Welcome to the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy Massachusetts. Dedicated in 1882, the original part of this library that now serves 90,000 residents in a city nine miles south of Boston–was designed by America’s first celebrity architect: Henry Hobson Richardson. Fully restored and renovated in 2001 as part of a 16 million dollar library expansion project, this “small masterpiece” is still a working and beloved part of the library–and open to visitors and residents alike. Now listed in GreatBuildingsOnline, the Crane Memorial Library has been voted one of America’s 150 favorite works of architecture.

The Architecture
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Crane Library exemplifies the elements that define Richardson’s style–Richardsonian Romanesque:

“Instead of the narrow vertical proportions and Gothic features used by his contemporaries, [Richardson] favoured horizontal lines, simple silhouettes, and large-scale Romanesque or Byzantine-inspired details. The Crane Memorial Library in Quincy, Mass. (1880-82), with its granite base, clerestory windows, tiled gable roof, and cavernous entrance arch, stands among his finest mature works.”

Why it works
“The general form of the building is simplified to one comprehensive shape with a minimum of elements, each of which articulates a particular interior function: window-wall for reading room to the right, entrance arch, tower for a staircase leading to offices behind the second story gable, and raised windows in the stack room to the left. Horizontal lines and bands of brownstone organize the composition. The ornament, though inspired by French Romanesque and Byzantine sources, is broadly scaled and bold rather than archaeological. The walls are a continuous textured surface of quarry-faced granite and brownstone, creating a visual continuity as do the textured shingles in the houses.”- Leland M. Roth. A Concise History of American Architecture. p167-8.

The Building:
Harpers Weekly Magazine called it “the best Village library in the United States”. Architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock called it “an advanced step away from traditional design”. Henry Hobson Richardson, the man who designed it, considered the Crane Memorial Library, opened in 1882, among the most successful and simple of of all his civic buildings.

The people of Quincy just plain love it.

“I don’t think you have to know anything about history or architecture to be affected by how beautiful that building is,” says Library director Ann McLaughlin, who oversaw the 2001 restoration and renovation of this national historical landmark.

Today, three additions and more than 125 years later, the Thomas Crane Public Library’s Richardson Building is still considered one of the country’s finest examples not only of Romanesque architecture, but of design principles that helped transform building styles across the entire American landscape.

“It’s a warm building that radiates a sense of power and permanence that modern architecture doesn’t have,” says Richardson biographer James O’Gorman, who is also a professor of Art History at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Since its dedication in 1882, The Thomas Crane Public Library has grown from Crane Memorial Library–a stately monument to its namesake, the wealthy stone contractor who got his start in Quincy’s granite quarries, to one of the largest regional libraries in Massachusetts.

The expansion of the library happened in three stages, through the efforts and endowment of the Crane family, and the involvement of three distinct groups of architects, library benefactors and trustees that included members of former US president John Adams family, and library staff. Each addition has added historical character to a building that now contains more than two acres of space.

oldlibrary.jpgThe original Richardson Building was made possible in 1880 through a $20,000 bequest from Albert Crane, who wanted the city to erect a public library as a memorial to his father Thomas Crane. The elder Crane, who was born on Georges Island but lived most of his childhood in Quincy Point, took the money he earned in the Quincy granite quarries to New York City, where he married, raised his family, and made a fortune investing in real estate.

Builders for the project were the Norcross Brothers of Worcester, Massachusetts, whose other construction projects include Richardson’s Trinity Church and buildings at Harvard University. According to company records, Norcross was paid $44,000 to build the Crane Memorial Library, a project undertaken in 1880 and completed in 1882.

As part of the latest addition in 2001, the Boston architectural firm Childs, Bertman, and Tseckares- CBT– also directed the restoration of the Richardson building, repainting the walls, recreating period light fixtures, and restoring the yellow pine woodwork and wide planked floors. Tables and chairs designed by Richardson were restored and put back into use for the public to enjoy.

By the 1930s the Library had again outgrown its building. This time the Crane family helped finance a major addition, designed by Boston and Quincy architects Paul and Carroll Coletti, that more than doubled the size of the Thomas Crane Library. Completed in 1939, and funded in part with a grant from the United States Public Works Commission, the Coletti addition, named the Albert Crane Memorial Wing, matches the style and building materials of the Richardson building, and boasts bas-relief carvings by the well known sculptor Joseph A. Coletti.

Building an addition to a masterpiece like the Thomas Crane Library- widely considered the best of all Richardson’s libraries-is cause for both excitement and trepidation.

“If you are adding a little bit to an old building, you would keep the architectural styles similar,” says lead CBT architect Richard Bertman. “But if you are adding a lot, you are changing the whole character. My sense was that if we tried to be the same” as the Romanesque design of the Richardson and Coletti buildings, the new addition could look like a cartoon copy of the original.

2001 additionWhat CBT did try to preserve were certain signature features of the older buildings, like the red slate roof, the granite foundation, and the decoration around the windows. “Especially in libraries,” Bertman says, “it’s important to honor traditions.”

In January 2002 the library was awarded the Mass Architectural Access Board’s 2001 Honor Award for Accessible Design in Public Architecture. In May 2002 the library received a Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award.

In January 2002 the library was awarded the Mass Architectural Access Board’s 2001 Honor Award for Accessible Design in Public Architecture. In May 2002 the library received a Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award.

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Not only was the original Thomas Crane Library built by the most famous architect of the time, its grounds were designed by the most famous landscaper of the time-Frederick Law Olmsted.

“I agree that the scraggly elm in the southwest corner of the Library Grounds should be cut out,” writes Olmsted’s Brookline firm in a 1913 letter to the Library Trustees about landscaping around the Aiken addition.

Olmsted is best known for his design of New York City’s Central Park. He also designed the string of green spaces in Boston known as the Emerald Necklace. A frequent collaborator and adviser to architect H.H. Richardson, Frederick Olmsted’s landscape design contributes to the sense that Richardson’s massive stone buildings emerge out of the ground with an energy all their own.

Quincy landscape architect Mary Smith has designed plantings for the new CBT addition that continue the Olmsted tradition of creating a park-like, natural setting for public buildings.

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Museum Quality Art
Glass:Famous artist John LaFarge created the “Old Philosopher” stained glass window in the Richardson Building as a memorial to Thomas Crane. Made up of more than 1000 pieces of glass and valued at more than half a million dollars, the 30 by 10 inch panel is considered a masterpiece. At the left of the fireplace is another LaFarge window, “Angel at the Tomb,” given in memory of Thomas Crane’s son, Benjamin Franklin Crane.

The worst moment in the entire library expansion project came the day that library officials discovered that a rare stained glass window by famed artist John LaFarge-valued at $500,000–had been stolen.

“I felt my heart stop!” Library Director Ann McLaughlin recalls of the moment when she realized that the window was missing from its sash. “I was horrified!”

McLaughlin was even more upset when a thorough search of the library failed to turn up the 30 by 10 inch panel that depicts a seated man reading a book. Called The Old Philosopher, and considered to be one of LaFarge’s finest works, the window had been on display in the original library since 1882.

For one week, the bad news just kept coming: the theft had probably gone undetected for several months because the Old Philosopher window had been hidden from casual sight by plywood during the renovation of the Richardson building; local police and the FBI had no promising leads on such a cold trail; the library was criticized for not having a better security system; art historians bemoaned the loss of a masterpiece.

Library Director Ann McLaughlin But on May 9, 2001, in a surprise ending more befitting a Nancy Drew mystery than real life, McLaughlin received an anonymous phone call from a man with a gruff voice: “Write this down! Willow Street, under the Curtis Tomb. You’ll find your window.”

First McLaughlin called the police and FBI. Then she telephoned her sister, who was convinced that the caller was directing McLaughlin to Mount Wollaston Cemetery, where the lanes are all named after trees.

Her sister’s hunch was right. They found the window wrapped in a black plastic trash bag stuffed under the grating of the tomb. “We grabbed it!” says McLaughlin.

“I put it on my sister’s lap and drove away.”

The Old Philosopher is not the only LaFarge window at the library to disappear mysteriously and then reemerge. Back in 1998, when library staff was preparing for the construction of the CBT addition, they discovered a long-lost panel that depicts the Greek symbol alpha, tucked into a crate of old clear windows in a library supply closet.

Missing since 1938, the stained glass window matches a similar library window that is decorated with the Greek symbol omega. Now that all three windows are accounted for, they are displayed as LaFarge intended, with the alpha and omega panels flanking the old philosopher panel as symbols of the endlessness of man’s quest for knowledge.

The man who designed the newest addition to the Thomas Crane Library had $16 million dollars to work with. But even with that budget, Richard Bertman says you simply can’t buy the kind of ornamentation and sculpture that grace both the original H.H. Richardson library building or the 1939 addition known as the Coletti building.

“We couldn’t do what Coletti did,” Bertman says, looking up at the bas-relief sculptures of riveters, granite cutters, and the two gracefully entwined cranes that decorate the
pediments of the Coletti Building. All three panels are the work of famous American sculptor and longtime Quincy resident Joseph A. Coletti, whose brothers Paul and Carroll designed the Coletti addition.

Born in Italy in 1898, Coletti’s family moved to Quincy when he was 2 years old. Joseph Coletti attended Quincy’s public schools, the Massachusetts School of Design, Northeastern University, and Harvard.

Coletti died in 1973, but his award-winning work can still be seen in museums, as well as in churches and public buildings, like the ceiling of the Boston Public Library and the rotunda of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Paul Coletti’s daughter in law, Alicia Coletti is a Library Trustee and a member of the Friends.

“I remember how proud he was of that library,” says Alicia. “I stand in the atrium and I look to the left and I see the wall of the Coletti building” that now stands as one entire side of the atrium. “Richard Bertman did a wonderful job of incorporating both old and new parts of the Library.”

The CBT addition is 56,000 square feet. The exterior is made of red slate, granite, brick, and cast stone that simulates brownstone. The exterior metal balconies, arches, and trim are designed to recall and repeat similar shapes and features from the Coletti buildings. Interior building materials include makore woodwork, Indian slate floors, and granite topped desks.

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Henry Hobson RichardsonThe Architect:
In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20ieth century, Henry Hobson Richardson was one of three men whose related works transformed American Architecture.

Along with Louis Sullivan, who designed some of the country’s first skyscrapers, and Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, this triumvirate pioneered the use of modern materials to open up interior spaces, and made the division of that space extremely flexible by eliminating the use of the supporting wall from the inside of a structure. Richardson, who predated both Sullivan and Wright, was one of the world’s first architects to remove conventional facades from the exterior of his buildings, giving them, in the words of contemporary critics, a “curiously modern” appearance.

HH Richardson, one of the most famous architects in American history, died in his bed at the age of 47: grossly overweight as a result of a kidney disorder, deeply in debt, and never having owned his own house.

“His early death was a wise career move,” observes Richardson biographer James O’Gorman wryly. “I think he had already done his best work.”

One of those “best works” is the original Thomas Crane Memorial Library.

“That Romanesque arch over the doorway was (Richardson’s) signature,” observes O’Gorman. “As an architectural monument, the Crane Library is as important as (any other historical or architectural artifact) in Quincy.”

With an art historian’s fervor for protecting the integrity of any great work, O’Gorman adds that any modification to the original Crane Library was an architectural mistake: “Architects say it’s a design problem and they can solve it. But Richardson’s buildings were not designed to be added to.”

Of course the beauty for Quincy residents of a library that includes the Richardson building is that they get to see and use the space he designed. “We wanted the H.H. Richardson building to remain a living part of the library,” says Library Director Ann McLaughlin. “Too often, buildings that are architectural gems become museums, and nobody really enjoys them.”

Born on a sugar plantation in Louisiana in 1838, Richardson moved his wife, their six children, and his architectural firm to the Boston area in 1874. Over the next 10 years, his firm produced some of America’s finest buildings, including what is considered Richardson’s masterpiece: Trinity Church in Boston.

The architect’s presence can still be felt in what had been his bedroom-unchanged after 121 years-in the house he and his family rented on Cottage Street in Brookline.

“The most moving of the bedroom’s items,” writes architecture critic Robert Campbell in an article published June 7, 2001 in the Boston Globe newspaper, “is a pair of rings, like the kind gymnasts swing from, that are fastened to one wall. Richardson used them to pull his great bulk upright, probably when he got out of bed. Yet this sick man never flagged, working until the end with enormous energy.”

When Richardson died, his friend Reverend Phillips Brooks, the first rector of Trinity Church in Boston, likened his death “to the vanishing of a great mountain from the landscape.”

While the rest of the country may have suffered a diminished view, Quincy is lucky. At the very center of this city is an H.H. Richardson building that fully embodies the power and genius of the man who designed it.

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The People and Politics
Few public libraries in the country have a more storied history than that of the Thomas Crane Memorial Library. That history began in the 1870s with a series of events involving three men, each of whom leaves an enduring legacy in this city:

Quincy native Charles Francis Adams—grandson of second U.S. president John Adams—-and chairman of the Quincy Library’s Board of Trustees for 19 years. Albert Crane, whose father Thomas Crane took the money he earned in the Quincy granite quarries to New York City, where he made a fortune investing in real estate. And Henry Hobson Richardson, friend of the Adams family and America’s first celebrity architect.

In 1879, when the city’s library was housed in the vacant Evangelical Congregational Church on the corner of Hancock and Revere Streets, Charles Francis Adams wrote in his annual report to the Library Board of Trustees that “the great need of this institution is a commodious and better adapted library room, in a more central part of the town.”

Adams’ hope that such space would come in the form of a building donated to the city was realized only a few months later when Albert Crane, who had never lived in Quincy, contacted Adams about building a library there in memory of his father, Thomas Crane.

The architect that the Crane family chose to design the memorial was Henry Hobson Richardson, then and still regarded as the foremost architect of his era.

The Crane Library is as important as anything else in Quincy, including the John Adams Family Mansion, and the United First Parish Church, designed by the famous architect Alexander Parris, where U.S. presidents John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams and their two wives are entombed. “People come to Quincy,” says art historian James O’Gorman, “just to look at the library.”

Even after Adams’ tenure as Chair of the Library Board of Trustees ended, the Crane family continued its involvement in the Crane Memorial Library, funding the 1908 addition to the Richardson building, which consisted of an ell, designed by architect William M. Aiken. In addition to creating more space, the wall of stained glass “bookplates” at the end of the Aiken wing allowed in more natural light.

Throughout this period, Albert Crane kept up a lively correspondence with library officials regarding everything from the placement of artwork and portraits within the library, to comments on the Annual Library Reports and events of the time. In a letter dated 1908, Crane complimented library director George Morton on the Aiken addition. “When prosperity returns,” Crane writes, “and my financial reservoir has begun to receive some rills of revenue, I want to increase a little that fund which you have called by my name if it is not exhausted.”

Even today, the generosity and vision of the Cranes, the Adams, and H.H. Richardson continues to benefit The Thomas Crane Memorial Library and the City of Quincy. The first money down on the CBT addition came from that fund to which Crane referred in his letter. And because it is considered H.H. Richardson’s masterpiece of library design, the original library building will always draw the attention and recognition of art historians, as well as the admiration of ordinary people who appreciate the power and simplicity of its design.

Finally, especially among the people of Quincy, the library’s ties to John and Abigail Adams—both voracious readers whose voices and letters helped define the principles of American democracy—serve as a reminder of how essential books are to an understanding of ourselves and the times in which we live.

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The Making of the Thomas Crane Public Library

The nation’s first public library opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire in 1835. In 1848 legislation was passed to establish such an institution in Boston, and extended to other communities in Massachusetts in 1851. By 1870 there were eighty free public libraries in this state.

1871: The citizens of Quincy vote at Town Meeting to appropriate $1000 for the salary of a librarian and maintenance of a building, and an additional sum of $2500 on the condition that an equal amount be raised by private subscription. In December, the Quincy Public Library opened in the north room of the Adams Academy Building with a collection of 4,607 volumes.

1874: The library relocated to the vacant Evangelical Congregational Church at the corner of Hancock Street and Revere Road; this after a possible short residence in Town Hall.

1875: Charles Francis Adams Jr., great grandson of President John Adams, began his nineteen-year chairmanship of the Board of Trustees.

1880: Town Meeting approved a $20,000 bequest from Albert Crane to erect a public library building as a memorial to his late father, Thomas Crane.

1882: Dedication ceremonies of the completed Crane Memorial Hall were held on May 30th. The library opened with a collection of 12,000 volumes.

1908: First addition to the library opened, again through the generosity of Albert Crane. The collection had grown to over 25,000 volumes.

1939: The new main addition to the library opens, financed by Crane family funds and a grant from the United States Public Works Administration.

1952: The 1939 addition was dedicated as the Albert Crane Memorial Wing.

2001: The newest addition to the library opens with a collection of 139,908 and a capacity of 244,000 volumes.

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