210 W. Green St., The Urbana Free Library

Project Overview

Architect: Joseph Royer         Year Built: 1917       Architectural Style: Classical Revival

 

Architectural Description

210 W. Green is home to the Urbana Free Library. The building was built in 1917 in the Classical Revival style and was designed by Joseph Royer, one of Urbana’s renowned architects. The building is constructed of cut limestone, a heavy material in appearance, which asserts the civic importance of the monumental building. The overall composition of the original library building is symmetrical and consists of three bays, a large projecting central bay and two end bays. The main entrance to the library is below a recessed barrel-vaulted coffered arch. The door has a classical triangular pediment above and the arched opening is flanked by classical columns of the Doric order. The columns support a Doric entablature and cornice. The two end bays have three large multi-paned rounded arch windows. A limestone balustrade encloses a narrow plaza space in front of the main entrance. The original library has been modified twice, first with an addition in 1975 and then with the construction of a new wing in 2005.Both modfifications took into consideration the historic integrity of the building and are compatible with the original architectural style.
 
 
 

Historical Description

Prior to the building of the current building, the Urbana library was located in a variety of locations, including above the Tiernan Brothers grocery story, above the Knowlton and Bennett Drug Store at Race and Main Streets, and finally on the first floor of the city building where it remained until 1918. Initially the City of Urbana had hoped to use funds from the Carnegie Foundation to build a new free public library. However, after raising the funds requested by Carnegie, the city was ultimately turned down because of a perception that it had sufficient means to build a library without external financial help. While this decision delayed the contruction by a number years, ultimately sufficient funds were raised. Mary Busey, widow of Samuel T. Busey, donated the bulk of the funds under the condition that the library be dedicated to her late husband.
 
210 W. Green St.