Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Henry M. Seymour Library

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Institution Name: Knox College
Original/Historic Place Name: Henry M. Seymour Library
Location on Campus: South St. and Cedar St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1927-1928original construction Coolidge & Hodgdon
1958addition Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: granite
Walls: limestone
Roof: none specified
ca. 1928-present (2007)library

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The original 1928 building was among the last of the fixed-function academic library buildings designed and completed before the Depression and WWII slowed nearly all library construction to a halt. Its centerpiece is a spectacular elevated reading room. Carefully preserved leaded and stained glass windows and quarter-sawn oak paneling, bookcases, ceiling trusses, and other millwork distinguish this part of the building today. The exterior limestone is from a regional quarry. Seymour Library was one of 42 "representative types of buildings" featured in Edna Ruth Hanley's College and University Library Buildings (1939). Hanley commended its traditional but asymmetric façade and concluded that "in spite of some functional inadequacies…the building is, from an architectural viewpoint, a lovely piece of design."

A 1958 addition clad in identical limestone accounts for most of the library's assignable square footage today. The addition is in the modular style universally adopted for new library construction after WWII. Following a thorough renovation in 1988-1990, the library remains in use today as an attractive and functional hybrid of 19th and 20th century approaches to library design and construction.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Hanely, Edna Ruth. College and University Library Buildings. Chicago: American Library Association, 1939.

Knox College. Memorials in American Colleges. Galesburg, IL: Knox College, [1930?].

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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Last update: November 2006