Preservation Issues

New York Public Library’s Interiors Get Designation Vote

-Rose Reading Room

-Bill Blass Catalog Room



Update: August 2017

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously voted to designate the Library’s Main Reading Room and Catalog Room as interior landmarks on August 8.

The Conservancy testified in support earlier in the summer. In a press release issued on the day of the vote, Peg Breen, the Conservancy’s president said “These interiors are not just some of the most beautiful in the City, but in the country as well,” “We’re delighted that the Commission has designated them and appreciate that the Library recognizes the need to preserve them well into the future.” (LPC Press Release)

Back in 2013, the Conservancy issued a letter to the LPC, requesting designation of 12 interiors, including the Main Reading Room and Catalog Room. We’re pleased to see that these two magnificent rooms will be protected and believe that the remaining spaces should also receive this recognition.


New York Public Library’s Interiors Get Landmark Hearing

Some of New York’s finest interiors are a step closer to landmark designation. The Conservancy testified at a July 18 hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in support of designating the Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalog Room as interior landmarks. These rooms are the centerpiece of Carrère and Hastings Beaux-Arts masterwork, which was one of the first individual landmarks designated in 1967. The rooms feature extraordinary design, materials, and craftsmanship, juxtaposing elegant symmetry and grand open space with rich ornament and lush detailing, in rooms that sanctify research and the pursuit of knowledge.

These Rooms have been honored with the Conservancy’s Lucy Moses Preservation Award twice. The first was for a late-1990s restoration that brought them back to their original grandeur. This year, the honors were for a meticulous restoration of the elaborate ceilings, triggered when an ornate plaster rosette fell from the 52-foot-high ceiling. Going beyond the one repair, the Public Library installed an anchor system to ensure there would be no repeat of that accident at each of the hundreds of rosettes that decorate the ceiling. The work also included restoration of ornamental plaster, woodwork, painted finishes, and installation of a new mural in the Catalog Room to match the 1990’s mural in the Reading Room.

They would join the Astor Lobby, main staircases, and third floor staircase as interior landmarks. In 2013, the Conservancy asked the Landmarks Commission to designate a series of interior rooms and spaces, including the two that the agency is now considering. We thank the LPC for moving forward on these designations and hope that more will be forthcoming. The LPC indicated that the designation vote would be held in a few weeks.

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