Brooklyn Public Library, National Trust for Historic Preservation & American Express Unveil Restored Central Library Doors

September 19, 2013


Brooklyn Public Library, National Trust for Historic Preservation & American Express Unveil Restored Central Library Doors

Brooklyn Public Library Received $250,000 to Renovate Historic Doors, Was One of 40 Institutions Competing For Preservation Grants

Brooklyn, NY –Brooklyn Public Library was joined by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation today to unveil Central Library’s refurbished main entrance doors, funded as part of the Trust and American Express’ historic preservation program, Partners in Preservation. Brooklyn Public Library was one of 40 institutions competing for generous grants from Partners in Preservation last year and earned first place in the public vote, receiving $250,000 to restore Central Library’s historic doors.

“Without the Partners in Preservation Program, the restoration of Central Library’s main doors would not have been possible. Thank you to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Express and the many people who voted to help Brooklyn Public Library win first place in the competition! With roughly one million visitors to Central Library every year, we are certain our new doors will be put to very good use,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

“We were thrilled by the excitement and outpouring of community support for Brooklyn Public Library in the 2012 Partners In Preservation campaign,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “Central Library is one of Brooklyn’s most beloved and celebrated civic spaces. American Express is proud to have played a crucial part in the restoration of the iconic doors.”

“Partners in Preservation builds grassroots engagement in saving community landmarks and provides funding for preservation projects that make a lasting impact on public enjoyment of historic places,” said Roberta Lane, senior field officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Brooklyn Public Library’s restored doors are a reflection of the community’s love for this historic gem and will be marveled at by visitors to the library for generations to come.”

Designed to resemble an open book, Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library is a modernist landmark and one of New York City’s greatest civic spaces. As record numbers of Brooklynites are using the library, the care and preservation of the landmark building is an institutional and community priority.

Opened to the public in 1941, Central Library was designed by Morton Githens and Francis Keally and features Art Deco detailing by sculptors Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein. Its majestic 50-foot entry portico is set into a concave façade and flanked by pylons decorated with gold-leafed figures depicting the evolution of art and science. A decorative bronze screen above the triple doors features 15 panels depicting notable characters in American writing.

Led by renowned architect Toshiko Mori in conjunction with architectural metal specialists Jaroff Design, the restoration project focused on maintaining the integrity of the existing entryway and its ornate historical detailing while improving the internal fabrication to create a stronger, more sustainable structure. The renovation work included the replacement of the aged bronze patina revolving and paired doors, scissor gates and door saddles, as well as restoring the granite paving at the entrance.  

Partners in Preservation was the City’s first-ever citywide preservation effort powered by social media, allowing the public to vote online for more than three weeks for the historic places most important to them. Forty historic New York sites from across all five boroughs participated in the program and competed for a part of the $3 million in funding from American Express. Brooklyn Public Library received 9% of the popular vote.

The refurbished historic doors are just one of the exciting improvements at Central Library. Earlier this year, Brooklyn Public Library opened the new Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons and expanded the Passport Application Acceptance Facility on the ground floor. Next year, renovations will begin on the Grand Lobby to better serve customers by modifying circulation desks and installing self-check machines. Looking ahead, there are plans for a completely revamped Young Adult section featuring the most up-to-date technology and expanding the children’s area. Additionally, as part of the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights branch, the Business & Career Library will be relocated to Central Library. The plan is to create a space for the Business & Career Library so that, along with the Adult Learning Center and Workforce1, Brooklyn Public Library’s adult education and job-readiness training will be integrated with services for local entrepreneurs and small business owners.

About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynpubliclibrary.org.

About Partners in Preservation
Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country. American Express has committed more than $15 million to Partners in Preservation, helping historic sites in six cities to date, which includes preservation projects in San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle and Saint Paul/Minneapolis and has engaged more than a million people. 

Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United

States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Historic preservation has long been the hallmark of American Express’ involvement in the community, reflecting the company’s recognition of the importance of cultural sites and monuments as symbols of national and local identity, and the role that their preservation can play in attracting visitors and revitalizing neighborhoods. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future. www.PreservationNation.org

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Brooklyn Public Library is an independent New York City library system serving the borough of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest in the United States. Its Central Library, Business Library, and 58 neighborhood libraries offer free information, programs and computer access to people of all ages. You can reach the Library's resources of over 70 reference databases, catalog information and news 24 hours a day at www.bklynlibrary.org