Githens & Keally

In 1908, the Brooklyn-born, École des Beaux-Arts-trained architect Raymond Francis Almirall was commissioned to design a central library in an elaborately classical style to complement the Brooklyn Museum to its east and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch to its west. Alas, in 1913, following excavation of the foundation and the beginnings of construction, the project was halted for lack of funds. Work did not resume until 1937, at which time Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally, making use of Almirall’s footprint, gave us a monumental library that may be termed either Art Moderne or stripped classical. Sheathed in Indiana limestone, its sweeping concave façade relates beautifully to the plaza it faces. The entrance is adorned with gilded reliefs by Carl Paul Jennewein, and a metal screen by Thomas Hudson Jones, bearing charming images drawn from literature. Inside, the wood-walled catalogue room, recalling the work of the Swedish architect Erik Gunnar Asplund, is one of the finest monumental interiors in the city, if not the country. The Brooklyn Public Library is a NYC Individual Landmark and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.