Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, suits of armor, and precious antiques no, we’re not talking about cathedrals or museums. Rather, those elements all belong to America’s most stunning college libraries. Universities from New York to Seattle have dedicated lavish sums to constructing temples to higher learning for the benefit of their students and faculty. Midterms and final exams may be the most dreaded part of the college experience, but students at these schools can take comfort knowing that they’re hitting the books in an architectural masterpiece. Let find out These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries below.
- 1 These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries
- 1.1 Bapst Art Library at Boston College
- 1.2 Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington
- 1.3 Widener Library at Harvard University
- 1.4 Uris Library at Cornell University
- 1.5 Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library at Vassar College
- 1.6 Washington University Law Library
- 1.7 Riggs Library at Georgetown University
- 1.8 Hoose Philosophy Library at the University of Southern California
- 1.9 Harper Memorial Library at the University of Chicago
- 1.10 George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University
- 1.11 Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania
- 1.12 Cook Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan
These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries
Bapst Art Library at Boston College
Originally constructed in 1928 as BC’s main library, the striking Gothic building now houses Bapst Art Library. With its tall arches, vaulted ceiling, and beautiful stained glass windows, it almost resembles a medieval church.
Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington
Terra cotta statues of Homer, Dante, Galileo, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and other luminaries crown Suzzallo Library, which is widely considered a masterpiece of Collegiate Gothic architecture. If you look closely at the bookcases in the reading room, you’ll see hand carved friezes depicting Washington state’s native plants.
Widener Library at Harvard University
A memorial to Harry Elkins Widener, a bookish young Harvard grad who died aboard the Titanic, the university’s flagship library is appropriately distinguished in style. The classical building is awash in marble, carved wood, and antiques. That is once of These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries.
Uris Library at Cornell University
This Romanesque building is not only the oldest library on Cornell’s campus, it also contains a library within a library. Inside, Cornell’s first president, Andrew Dickson White, built a gorgeous repository for his rare book collection inspired by European universities, complete with stained glass windows, wrought iron stacks, and antiques. These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries.
Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library at Vassar College
A gothic masterpiece, Thompson Memorial Library at Vassar features stained glass windows from England, a stone frieze with various university seals, and 17th century Flemish Gobelins tapestries depicting the romance of Cupid and Psyche.
Washington University Law Library
Hartman Cox Architects used one of the university’s earlier study spaces as the inspiration for the Janite Lee Reading Room, which they built in 1997. With its vaulted, beamed ceiling, wood paneling, and high windows, it looks like something straight out of Tudor England.
Riggs Library at Georgetown University
You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but hidden inside Healy Hall is Georgetown’s most gorgeous library and the campus’s main library until 1970. One of the country’s few remaining cast iron libraries, Riggs still houses a selection of books and serves as an event space.
Hoose Philosophy Library at the University of Southern California
You don’t need to be a philosopher to appreciate the Hoose Library at USC. Just take a look at the intricate Moorish style columns and the series of mosaics that represent the subject’s progression from the ancient Near East to modern America. That is once of These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries.
Harper Memorial Library at the University of Chicago
With one tower resembling King’s College in Cambridge and another with Byzantine imagery, UChicago’s Harper Memorial Library is a study in subtle contrasts. Inside the vaulted reading room, you’ll find coats of armor amid the tables and chairs.
George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University
Part of the Peabody Institute of Music, the George Peabody Library exemplifies the exquisite cast iron architecture of the late 1800s, when it was built. With five levels of balconies culminating in the dramatic skylight, the library has become a premier wedding venue in Baltimore.
Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania
In 1888, architect Frank Furness went against the classical and Romanesque trends of the day and built this luminous library using a material decidedly more mundane than marble red brick. Yet he used it to stunning effect, creating dramatic arches and vaulted ceilings.
Cook Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan
Built in 1931, the Cook Legal Research Library looks like something straight out of. Harry Potter. Stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and Medieval inspired chandeliers decorate the massive Hogwarts like reading room. That is once of These of America’s Most Beautiful College Libraries.