ST. LOUIS – Hidden away in the St. Louis Central Library are the first editions of well-known works.
Some of the first edition works are from Andrea Palladio and Leon Battista Alberti. Two authors who changed the way people thought about architecture in the 1400s and 1500s. There are also first edition etchings from Piranesi. These same etchings were once the property of the House of Lords in England.
All of these unique pieces are stored in the library on Olive Street through a double door that sits underneath a broken pediment. These details are what put the library on the Daily Beast’s list of The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries.
The Central Library opened in 1912. Andrew Carnegie donated $1 million in 1901 to St. Louis for its libraries.
“It would be a great mistake in my opinion to spend a million dollars upon a Central Library Building. The masses are best reached by Branch Libraries, and the Central Building is much less important than before,” Carnegie wrote in his letter announcing the gift. “The buildings should be dignified, but not ornate. The building is only the frame; the treasures of a Library are within.”
Eight architectural firms then competed to win the bid. Cass Gilbert came out on top. Gilbert is the architect behind the St. Louis Art Museum which was called the Palace of Fine Arts during the 1904 World’s Fair.
The library was under construction from April 1, 1908 to January 1, 1912.