Community members are invited to the Rosenberg Library to admire the recent interior renovations which returned many of the architectural and design elements of the historic Rosenberg Wing to their original luster. The Rosenberg Restored--Phase IV celebration will take place Saturday, April 30th at the library from 6:00-8:30PM to coincide with ArtWalk. Exciting new museum displays will be unveiled, including interactive exhibits for children. Musical entertainment will be provided in the Grand Hallway and refreshments will be served.
Visitors arriving through the 23rd Street entrance are afforded a broad view of some of the sweeping changes. The space has been brightened up with fresh paint similar to the original color scheme of the interior and plaster repairs to the walls and ceiling. Refurbished marble staircases leading to the third floor museum area and meeting rooms flank the Grand Hallway. Dramatic improvements have also been made to the McCullough Room; the original ceiling, windows and wood floor were restored. Historically appropriate lighting fixtures have been added throughout the second and third floors. New carpeting, lights and Golden Oak furniture warm the atmosphere in the Gibson Room where visitors can read or hop onto the library’s Wi-Fi. The Friends of the Library have expanded shelving for stocking gently used books at discount prices in the old cage area. The museum is proud to showcase the bell from Mission Concepción in San Antonio, now housed in the Grand Hallway.
Improvements continue on the third floor of the Rosenberg Wing with new carpeting, paint, lighting, and refinished wood throughout. Perhaps most noticeable of the third floor building enhancements will be the reopening of the Fox Room. Natural light accentuates the freshly installed quarter-saw longleaf pine flooring, professionally refurbished paneling, Hunter-Douglas window blinds, and new meeting room furniture. The Fox Room will also feature a historically appropriate lighting system including newly created mahogany torchiere floor lamps. Community members will be able to reserve this room for meetings.
While construction has been ongoing, the museum staff has been busy revamping the Galveston: Treasure Isle of the Gulf exhibit in the Lykes Gallery and preparing to reopen the Pottery of the Americas exhibit in the Hutchings Gallery. Two new displays will accompany the refashioned museum space. The third floor hallway gallery will feature an exhibit on legendary glass-maker René Lalique. Several Lalique pieces from the Rosenberg Library’s famed museum collection will be on display, including the exquisite Vase Bacchantes. The Harris Gallery will showcase a solo exhibit of artist Clyde Harold Wortham. His talents as an oil painter are exemplified by numerous vibrant still life paintings.
Visitors will be able to feel some of the improvements that have been made to the HVAC system. The 1960s and 1970s era air handlers and chillers have been upgraded to provide enhanced climate control throughout the building and to protect the library’s incomparable archive and museum collections from island humidity. A state-of-the-art storage space was also built for the museum’s paintings which will help preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
The Rosenberg Library was established by a generous bequest from Henry Rosenberg upon his death in 1893. Eames & Young of St. Louis was chosen as the architectural design firm by the library’s Board of Directors in 1901 and construction began in October of 1902. The building was dedicated on June 22, 1904, Henry Rosenberg’s birthday, and is constructed of brick, stone and terra cotta in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The library has undergone many renovations over the years, including the addition of the Moody Wing in the early 1970s.
Executive Director John Augelli has overseen a number of important construction projects during his tenure at the Rosenberg Library as well as multiple large and small-scale building improvement projects at other libraries over the course of his career. Prior to Hurricane Ike in 2008, extensive repairs and enhancements had just been completed on the exterior of the building. The library’s Board of Directors was honored by the Galveston Historical Foundation with the Sally B. Wallace Award in 2009 for its exceptional dedication to historical preservation on the exterior improvement project. Following the hurricane, efforts were made to replace and relocate all of the critical building systems that could be moved to the upper floors of the building and upgrade large portions of the ceiling and lighting systems in the Moody Wing. This recent round of renovations to the Rosenberg Wing interior is the most significant the building has undergone in the library’s history. These upgrades have been made possible by the Houston Endowment, the Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund, the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, a bequest from Hugh and Evalyn Gibson, as well as many donations from other foundations and patrons.
The project architects for the Phase IV renovations are from the firm of Ford, Powell & Carson (FPC), which has been involved in numerous historical renovations on Galveston Island and elsewhere in Texas, including the Alamo and the Texas State Capitol building. The general contractor on the Phase IV renovation work is the Galveston-based company Building Solutions. Looking forward, the Board of Directors and staff, along with FPC, are currently finalizing plans to rebuild the first floor of the building, which will include flood control measures to provide protection from future damage.
The library would like to celebrate the hard work that has gone into revitalizing this valuable community asset and thank its library patrons for their patience during the construction process with the Rosenberg Restored--Phase IV event. Please contact library Administration at 409-763-8854 x121 with questions or visit the library’s website: http://www.rosenberg-library.org/.
By: Maurine Nichols