Surely one of the most distinctive structures in Hyde Park, the branch library, originally built in 1899 in the Classical Revival style, now coexists with an elegant black steel and glass addition. Named the Thomas Menino Wing, it honors Boston's mayor, who resides in the district.
Entrance to the library remains in the earlier building, built of buff Roman brick above a granite base, via the short flight of steps leading to the portico flanked by fluted Ionic columns, and crowned with an entablature bearing the words “Public Library” beneath a triangular pediment. Miesian columns punctuate the exterior glass surface of the addition, reflecting the nearby landscape and sky, and serving as a beacon when viewed at night. On the exterior, steel beams and columns frame the two-story atrium and surrounding book stacks, recalling cast-iron elements of the original structure. Most enchanting is the children's reading garden, planted with cedars, crab apples, and hardy ground cover and punctuated by gentle rocks that can serve as perches for the young participants during reading aloud sessions.
Maximum sensitivity to scale and proportion resulted in a civic landmark. Reinforcing the continuity of past and present by juxtaposing styles a century apart, the architects have ennobled the public library as the community's prime institution of learning.