The Historic Library & Courts Building: An Architectural Treasure

Introduction

The Library & Courts Building located at 914 Capitol Mall is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in State Government. Its entrance lobby is unsurpassed and the building features three murals and a variety of attractive decorative features. On May 24, 1984, the Library & Courts Building was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration is now underway of the fifth floor meeting room and its magnificent rotunda.

The Library & Courts Building opened in 1928 as part of the Capitol Extension Group. It faces a twin structure, Office Building Number 1 (now called the Unruh Building). Designed by the prestigious San Francisco firm of Weeks & Day, both neo-classical structures are located across the street from the State Capitol. A circular drive with a fountain in the middle provides a graceful division between the two office buildings. The five-story exteriors are clad in Sierra white granite quarried by the McGilvrary-Raymond Granite Company in Madera County and granitex architectural terra cotta manufactured by Gladding, McBean and Company of Lincoln, Placer County.

The Foundation commissioned noted architectural photographer Cathy Kelly in 1988 and 2001 to photograph this magnificent edifice. Her photographs are supplemented by historic photographs from the Library's California History Section.

For further information on the history of this fabulous building see: California State Library Bulletin, Issue Number 69 (Fall 2000 / Winter 2001). Copies of the Bulletin may be obtained purchased from the Foundation for $7.50. Please see Publications List for order information.

The Exhibit

Here you can see exterior and interior views of the Library & Courts Building, as well as the photos of the Library & Courts II Building.

Click on the thumbnail below to enlarge the image. To move forward to the next image click on the right side of the image or press the right arrow key. To close the image, please click the X or anywhere outside the image.

Library & Courts Building, north facade. 2001. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 1 0f 30)
Aerial photograph of the State Capitol and Capitol Extension Group (image 2 0f 30)
Library & Courts Building, Cornerstone Laying Ceremony, March 26, 1924 (image 3 0f 30)
State Capitol with Library & Courts Building under construction. Looking south, southwest. McCurry photograph (image 4 0f 30)
Library & Courts Building, 1926 depicting the east and north facades. (image 5 0f 30)
Library & Courts Building and circle, circa 1930. This view of the north facade was taken shortly after the completion of the landscaping (image 6 0f 30)
The north facade features a granite pediment group created by New York sculptor Edward Field Sanford, Jr. (image 7 0f 30)
The sculptor Edward Field Sanford, Jr. inspects the work on his pediment (image 8 0f 30)
Memorial Entrance Vestibule. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 9 0f 30)
Detail of one the decorative urns surmounting the marble pillars. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 10 0f 30)
Detail of bronze torch light standards in the Memorial Vestibule. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 11 0f 30)
Frank Van Sloan murals. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 12 0f 30)
Detail of Frank Van Sloan murals. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 13 0f 30)
Grand staircase. Photograph by Ross Steinerİ (image 14 0f 30)
Courtroom. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 15 0f 30)
State Librarian's Office.  Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 16 0f 30)
The Anoakia Murals by Maynard Dixon. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 17 0f 30)
The Anoakia Murals by Maynard Dixon. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 18 0f 30)
Ceiling details. The ceilings of the public floors are painted with figures from mythology including this portrait of Medusa. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 19 0f 30)
Ceiling details. The ceilings of the public floors are painted with figures from mythology including this portrait of Medusa. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 20 0f 30)
Gillis Hall, 1929. Named in honor of State Librarian James L. Gillis, this stately room serves as the main reference center for the Library. (image 21 0f 30)
Maynard Dixon mural in Gillis Hall. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ
Maynard Dixon mural in Gillis Hall. Photograph by Cathy Kellyİ (image 23 0f 30)
Maynard Dixon at work on the mural. Dixon worked from a scaffold. For three and a half months, Dixon labored daily in Gillis Hall finally completing the mural in November 1928 (image 24 0f 30)
Circulation and Catalog Room, 1929. The room is graced by a highly ornamented ceiling, terrazzo floor, and bronze chandelier (image 25 0f 30)
Bronze entrance gate to the Circulation and Catalog Room, 1929 (image 26 0f 30)
Eelevated bronze statue by Edward Field Sanford, Jr., flank side of the Circulation and Catalog Room. Photographs by Cathy Kellyİ (image 27 0f 30)
Eelevated bronze statue by Edward Field Sanford, Jr., flank side of the Circulation and Catalog Room (image 28 0f 30)
The Library & Courts II Building (image 29 0f 30)
The Library & Courts II Building (image 30 0f 30)