Restored doors at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch to continue welcoming readers to world of books

September 20, 2013 Heather Chin
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The first thing that readers of all ages see when approaching the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza are the doors–the majestic 50-foot-high, triple-doored entry portico in designed and sculpted in the Art Deco style with gold-leaf figures depicting the evolution of art and science, as well as a bronze screen shielding 15 panels of carved images depicting notable characters in American writing.

These doors, first unveiled in 1941, were among 40 preservation projects funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and grants from Partners in Preservation–an historic preservation program run by American Express.

BPL’s Central Library doors came in first place in a social media campaign to select projects nationwide to receive funds. They won $250,000.

“Thank you to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Express and the many people who voted to help Brooklyn Public Library win first place in the competition! With roughly one million visitors to Central Library every year, we are certain our new doors will be put to very good use,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

The restoration was led by renowned architect Toshiko Mori in conjunction with architectural metal specialists Jaroff Design, who replaced the aged bronze patina revolving and paired doors, scissor gates and door saddles. It also restored the granite paving at the entrance.

The goal, says BPL was to “maintain the integrity of the existing entryway and its ornate historical detailing while improving the internal fabrication to create a stronger, more sustainable structure.”

The doors were designed to resemble an open book by Morton Githens and Francis Keally and sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein.

Other renovations and refurbishments going on at the Central Library include:

  • the new Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons
  • the expanded Passport Application Acceptance Facility on the ground floor
  • renovations, to begin in 2014, to the Grand Lobby to modify circulation desks and install self-check machines
  • a completely revamped Young Adult section featuring the most up-to-date technology
  • an expanded children’s area

Planned changes also extend to other BPL branches:

  • As part of the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights branch, the Business & Career Library will be relocated to Central Library. The plan is to create a space for the Business & Career Library so that, along with the Adult Learning Center and Workforce1, BPL’s adult education and job-readiness training will be integrated with services for local entrepreneurs and small business owners.


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