The James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner

Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner (front)
Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner (back)

The James V. Brown Library

The James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, Pennsylvania (Pre-1923 public domain postcard)

The James V. Brown Library, at 19 East Fourth Street in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public in 1907.  James V. Brown, a wealthy business owner, had long desired to build a public library for the citizens of Williamsport, but plans in earnest didn’t begin until 1899 when Brown purchased a plot of land on which to build the new library.  Brown then hired Philadelphia architect, Edgar V. Seeler, to design the new library.  By May 1900, Seeler had proposed a grand, French Renaissance building, complete with monolithic, twenty-two foot, dual columns flanking the entrance.  Seeler designed the building to include an art gallery space, marble statues imported from Italy, an elevator, steam heat and electric lights throughout.  

Edgar V. Seeler’s Rendering of the proposed James V. Brown Library (from the Altoona Tribune, December 1, 1901)

The cornerstone was laid on March 10, 1906, and the library opened to the public on June 17, 1907. 

The James v. Brown Library Reading Room and Delivery Desk (pre-1923 public domain postcard)

The James V. Brown Library Reader’s Card Application

1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application (front)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application (back)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application Return Envelope (front)
1918-1928 Reader’s Card Application Return Envelope (back)

James V. Brown

James V. Brown (from the Altoona Tribune, December 1, 1910)

James Van Duzee Brown, born on March 4, 1826, was a business owner and philanthropist in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  He amassed a large fortune through a number of early business ventures, including lumber, coal and flour milling.  He was an early founder of the First National Bank in Pennsylvania, President of the Williamsport Water Company and the Citizens’ Gas and Water Company.  Prior to his death, he pledged $400,000 to build a public library.  James V. Brown died on December 8, 1904, three years before completion of the new library.    

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