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Library of Virginia and Supreme Court Building (former)

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1939–1940, Carneal, Johnston and Wright, architects; Baskervill and Son, associated architects; Alfred M. Githens and Francis Keally, consulting architects. c. 1970, addition, Carneal and Johnston. Broad, 11th, and Governors sts. at Capitol Sq.
  • Library of Virginia and Supreme Court Building (former) (Virginia Division of Historic Resources)

The building is one of Virginia's best examples of Moderne classicism. The austerity of the lower floors is reminiscent of a Masonic temple. At the same time the massing recalls John Russell Pope's contemporaneous National Archives (1936) in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court of Virginia entrance was on Broad Street, whereas the main lobby and library reading rooms were entered off Capitol Street (now Capitol Square). The exterior is a curtain of Indiana limestone on a pink granite base pierced by tall rectangular windows that illuminate the reading rooms of the first floor. Minnesota granite is used for the entrances, with restrained bronze screens above the doorways. Entrance is through ornamental bronze gates and grillwork depicting stylized papyrus leaves. The lobby at the south (Capitol Square) doorway is a dramatic space with indirect lighting, accentuating the richness of the paneling and large mural facing the doors. The mural (1951), by Julien Binford, is an allegory of George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights. Both the library and the Virginia Supreme Court have vacated the building, and at the time of writing the Commonwealth of Virginia was determining a use for the structure.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Library of Virginia and Supreme Court Building (former)", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 179-179.

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