Historic Evansville

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Willard Library

Willard Library
Willard Library

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21 First Ave
Evansville, IN

Quick Timeline

1885 Williard Library opens
1982 Chimney is destroyed by a storm but repaired


East side of First Ave opposite Indiana St
District: Lamasco
Latitude: 37.978337626156
Longitude: -87.574017047882
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Style: Gothic
Architect: Reid,James W.

Exterior James and Merritt Reid designed the library in a Victorian Gothic style; this style of narrow shapes and ornamentation emphasizes height. Famous examples of the Gothic style include Notre Dame in Paris, Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. The Victorian Gothic style can be seen in the Westminster Abbey in London England. Another building designed by the Reid Brothers can be seen in a house at the corner of Eighth and Washington in downtown Evansville. There have been many renovations to the library since it opened in 1885. For more information on those renovaitons click here. Victorian Gothic characteristics can be seen in the pointed arch windows on Willard. These enable windows to be larger without loosing structural support. Tracery is also used in some of the windows. Small stained-glass rose windows can be found in the tracery of the windows. Tracery was also used on the side of the building. This type was called plate tracery. The windows on the first floor of the building are separated by columns, which were left rough so they could later add detailed ornamentation. The money for the carving was never financed so this and other stone elements were left bare to this day. Flying Buttress The flying buttress is a technique used to give walls more structural support, so walls could be raised higher. Tracery Tracery was developed mainly in British cathedrals and was used to bring attention to the windows in a building because of conservative interior designs. Plate Tracery Alternating white and brown bricks found around the rounded arch windows. The entrance to the library is in the form of an overhang built into the flying buttresses that come out of the west wall. This also gives structural support to the library’s tower. Heavy cornices and gables are other examples of Gothic architecture used in the library. The north and south gables are trimmed with sheet metal to simulate carved stone. There is also a terra cotta owl on the gables, which is a symbol of learning. An owl is also represented in the Willard’s logo. The Pediment has Willard Library in raised letters. Interior The most notable feature on the inside of the library is the use of oak wood. There is an oak staircase that winds between levels at the Willard. It was ornamented with carvings of rosettes, grapevines, and grooved motifs. These motifs are scattered throughout the entire library.



groundbreaking began 1877 halted 1877-1882 depression opened 1885 In 1982 the chimney was destroyed by a storm and a fund was raised to repair the roof. The storm caused over one hundred thousand dollars in damage to the structure. The original bricks were recovered from the attic and restored to its original appearance. Willard Library has been a part of Indiana’s history since 1885; it has the distinction of being Indiana’s oldest public library. The library is named after Willard Carpenter, a local philanthropist who envisioned the library to be a place that people of all races, classes, and sexes could use free of charge. Willard Carpenter envisioned the library to be part of an entire university dedicated to extending education to all. The library was the only part of this vision that would be realized. The National Register of Historical Places recognized the library in 1972 by listing it as a national historic site. The library was opened even though it was not yet finished in 1885. carpenters field construction began in 1876 but halted due to depression restarted in 1882 1937 lady in grey ghost first spotted

See also

Willard Library website Other Lamasco district

Research notes

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