English Minton tile floor
is evident, as well as the difference in scale.
The ornamentation within the library reflects the War Department's military heraldry. For example, the terra cotta oak leaves in the cove ceiling represent steadfastness and civic virtue. The acorns in the same detail represent life and productivity. This decoration was once lit by gas jets, the pipes of which are still in place. The salamanders in the lower level shelving panels suggest bravery and courage. The butterflies in the floor represent immortality. Laurel leaves on the columns may symbolize glory and victory due to Laurel-crowned heroes following Roman-era battles.
The metals in the room are cast iron, which has been treated in a variety of ways to imitate other metals. A patented treatment of the metal following the Bower-Barff process created the dark rough surfaces. The thin pressed panels were created using the Galvano-plastic process and electroplating created the copper surfaces of the fluted columns. The adjustable shelving is also cast iron.
Between 1938 and 1970, the library was used for storage. In 1970, the library was renovated for use as a conference room. The renovation installed carpeting over the tiled floor, a dropped acoustical ceiling reduced the height of the room to one story, and gold-colored drapes hid the perimeter metal paneled walls from view.
Restoration of this room was completed in 1985 following removal of the 1970 alterations. Restoration work included analysis of the painted surfaces and different metal finishes. Painters with the General Services Administration completed the paint restoration including the touch-up of bronze powder paint on the metal. The skylight was restored in the 1990s when the roof work was completed.
Return to the EEOB Tour