Celebrating 100 Years of Central Library!

Paul Cret

The entire community is invited to commemorate the illustrious 100-year history of Central Library with special programs and opportunities for individual involvement beginning September 1 and continuing through mid-October.

Located on land donated by beloved Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, the original limestone building at 40 E. St. Clair Street was designed by Paul Cret and dedicated on October 7, 1917. It arose from the need to expand beyond the crowded and inadequate conditions at a building the Library had occupied at Ohio and Meridian Streets since 1893.

The Cret Building, whose architectural features are highlighted by its classic Greek Doric exterior and interior ceiling mural painted in oil on small canvases, received acclaim from such national publications as Architectural Forum which, in 1918, proclaimed Central Library as "the most beautiful secular building in the United States, if not the most beautiful secular building produced in modern times."

Central Library expanded in 2007 with a six-story glass and steel-framed addition designed by Evans Woollen that gently embraces the Cret Building and provides a complementary bridge between the traditional and modern library. In 2016, Elle Decor magazine included Central Library in its list of the "50 Best Libraries in America."

Individuals of all ages will have a variety of opportunities to participate in Central Library's 100-year anniversary. Activities taking place between September 1 - October 15 include:

Penny Gates Collection
The Learning Curve - Level 2
Children and families are invited to roll their pennies down the Penny Racer to join a 100-year tradition honoring James Whitcomb Riley. The wrought iron gates at the south entrance of the Cret Building, known as the Penny Gates, were made possible through the donation of pennies by children and bear the description, "The gates are the gift of the children of Indianapolis in loving remembrance of their friend James Whitcomb Riley." All proceeds collected from the Penny Racer will go to the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation in support of Library programs and special projects such as the restoration of the Penny Gates.

Facebook 1917
6th Floor
Imagine what the comments might have been when Central Library opened in 1917! Children and individuals of all ages will be able to post a comment on an interactive analog wall as a Library patron from 100 years ago.

Kids Activities
The Learning Curve - Levels 2 & 3
A number of activities engaging young ones about Central Library's history will include a 1917 storytime, a craft program during which they will design their own time capsule, and a Centennial scavenger hunt.

Photo Contest
September 11 - October 15
Photographers ages 13 and up are invited to compete in this contest juried by the Riviera Camera Club. There will be teen and adult prize categories that include a $500 Evans Woollen Best of Show award. Prints from prize category winners and selected additional entries will be exhibited in Central Library's South Display Hall and Simon Reading Room. The Evans Woollen Tribute and Award Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, November 7 at 6 p.m. at Central Library .Photo entries should be submitted through a public post using the hashtag #indycentral100photo on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. For complete entry rules, click here.

The Cret Building at 100
October 7 – December 31
Simon Reading Room
This special exhibit celebrates the architecture, people and stories of the Library's Cret Building that played an integral part in defining the city's character 100 years ago and remains vibrant and culturally significant today. Sixteen full-color, illustrative and interpretive panels designed by RLR of Indianapolis showcase over 50 images and artifacts from Central Library's Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room. "The Cret Building at 100," made possible by a generous grant from Katz, Sapper & Miller, will be unveiled during the Central Library Centennial Celebration and will be on display around the balcony of the historic Simon Reading Room during regular Central Library hours.

"Celebrating 100 Years of Central Library" is made possible by Buckingham Companies and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. For more information on these free Central Library Centennial activities, call 317-275-4099 or visit the Library on Facebook and Twitter.