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The 19th-century Peabody Library is one of the most gorgeous libraries in Maryland with a collection of over 300,000 volumes

David Goran

Located in the world-renowned Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, The George Peabody Library is the 19th-century focused research library of The Johns Hopkins University.

Formerly known as the Library of the Peabody Institute, it is one of the most beautiful libraries in Maryland and is housed in a remarkable building.

The library was originally part of an arts and culture institute; America’s first music conservatory that George Peabody created to be available to the people of his beloved Baltimore.

Interior of the George Peabody Library. Source

Interior of the George Peabody Library. Source

Established in 1857 by George Peabody, a Massachusetts-born philanthropist who “gave $300,000 as a beginning sum for the Peabody Institute,” the library is a historic institution of the City of Baltimore. The Institute was originally planned to open in 1860, but the border-state conflict in the region caused by the American Civil War delayed its establishment and construction until 1866, when Peabody dedicated the first segment West Wing of the new Peabody Institute to the citizens of Baltimore in appreciation of their kindness and hospitality.

The library was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund George Lind and opened in 1878. Source

The library was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund George Lind and opened in 1878. Source1 Source2

The Peabody Library building, which opened in 1878, was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind, in collaboration with the first provost, Dr. Nathaniel H. Morison that described it as a “cathedral of books.

The library collection contains over 300,000 volumes largely from the 18th and 19th centuries. Source

The library collection contains over 300,000 volumes largely from the 18th and 19th centuries. Source

 

George Peabody Library Ceiling. Source

George Peabody Library Ceiling. Source

The library’s 300,000 volume collection is particularly strong in religion, British art, architecture, topography and history; American history, biography, and literature; Romance languages and literature; history of science; and geography, exploration, and travel.

Left - Detail of stair and railings. Right - View of the George Peabody Library from the third floor stacks. Source1 Source2

Left – Detail of stair and railings. Right – View of the George Peabody Library from the third-floor stacks. Source1 Source2

The library interior is one of the most remarkable in the world. The visually stunning, monumental neo-Greco interior features an atrium that, over an alternating black and white slab marble floor, soars 61 feet high to a latticed skylight of frosted heavy glass surrounded by five tiers of ornamental black cast-iron balconies and gold-scalloped columns containing closely packed book stacks.

Outfitted in ornate railings and patterned marble floors. Source

Outfitted in ornate railings and patterned marble floors. Source

Between July 2002 and May 2004, the now historic Library underwent a $1 million renovation and was refurbished. In accordance with the provisions of Mr. Peabody’s original gifting terms, the George Peabody Library is a non-circulating collection open to the general public. The library’s magnificent settings have made it one of the city’s most popular venues for weddings, events, and movies.