In this issue:

Banner Image: Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple, Looking East.  From J. C. Wild, Panorama and Views of Philadelphia and its Vicinity.... (Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1838).

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Banner Image: Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple, Looking East.  From J. C. Wild, Panorama and Views of Philadelphia and its Vicinity.... (Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1838).


Construction at the Athenaeum


Thank you to all of our donors to the May Appeal. The May 2012 Building Appeal has so far reaped $92,000, with outstanding donations from Athenaeum members as well as foundations (including the Miller Trust). This funding has arrived at an especially timely moment since engineers Keast & Hood have just uncovered a cracked joist in the floor of Periodicals 3, a small room which formerly held oversized, bound periodicals on the third floor. Further investigation is planned to make sure that no other joists are cracked in that room, which is stacked above the old Directors' Room and the Chess Room; and then repairs will begin. The bound periodicals in that room have been removed to off-site storage.

Construction Update:

East Balcony: You may have noticed that scaffolding has appeared on the east side of the building. This marks the beginning of work on that balcony, work which should proceed for some three to four months as contractors and engineers repair this important component of John Notman's design. When finished, the balcony will have a freshly painted, striped canopy roof, as well as reinforced structure and cleaned, repainted metalwork. Keast & Hood, engineers, and J. S. Cornell, contractors, are the team working on this important remediation, funded by part of the generous grant from the William B. Dietrich Foundation. During this period of construction, access to the garden will be limited, with no parking for cars allowed.

Reading Room Windows: Jeff Barr and his crew are finishing the work on these sample windows as a prelude to repairing the rest of the windows in the Reading Room, Chess Room, and Busch Room. Repair of the Reading Room windows is complicated by the three-part system used for the interior section of each window. The Athenaeum's Superintendence Committee (Robert Linck and Hyman Myers) is preparing RFPs for the remaining windows.

Third Floor Windows: Work continues on the third floor, where you can see plywood blocking some of the windows still in process. Work began on the western side of the building and has marched toward the east, except for a few windows which have required more attention. Repair of these windows is offset by donations from the Athenaeum Board.

West Balcony: The west balcony's water penetration problems have been solved so that water no longer leaks into the first floor coatroom. After more masonry repair (some of it cosmetic), this balcony will be finished. This repair was undertaken with a challenge grant from an Athenaeum member which was met by donations from the Athenaeum Board. 


Above: Scaffolding for east balcony restoration.  Photo by Jim Carroll



All Aboard!  Paul P. Cret's Train Designs

Although most viewers think of architect Paul P. Cret (1876 - 1945) as a result of his designs for public buildings such as the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion, PA, or the Detroit Institute of Art in Michigan, or the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, both he and his successor firm Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson (fl. 1945 - 1976) produced a surprising number of train car designs, both interior and exterior, for Philadelphia's Budd Company. Therefore, the story of Cret's relationship with the Budd Company is told through the many trains that he designed from the beginning of their association in 1933 through the extension of his firm after his death in 1945 to successors Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson. The stripped Modern Classicism associated with Cret's architectural firm often becomes streamlined on the exteriors of the trains while the interiors display the rich approach already seen in Cret's building designs.

Exhibition Dates: July 5-August 24, 2012, M-F: 9:00-5:00

Member News

Congratulations to Barbara Eberlein on her acceptance into the Attingham Summer School. The program in 2012, based at three centers, will give members a chance to study about twenty-five historic houses – usually on specially arranged visits – accompanied by specialist tutors and visiting lecturers. Seminars and lectures set the country house in a broader artistic and social context, and time is given for discussion and for developing contacts, a popular and important ingredient of the course. There are excellent opportunities to broaden one’s knowledge of architecture and the decorative arts, and the Attingham Summer School offers a unique, if strenuous, approach to art education for museum curators, architectural historians, conservationists and teachers.

Above: Painting of the Garden at Stourhead, Wiltshire © NTPL.

More Member News

Our thanks go to Samuel Streit and Daniel Traister, curators of the forthcoming 2012 exhibition drawn from the Evan Turner Collection at the Athenaeum. Sam and Dan have traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to participate in the SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing) Programme held at Trinity College. Their paper "Circulating a copy of Thomas Gray’s Poems (1775) in 1776" concentrates on one title from the Turner Collection and the circulation of the item to women in England in 1776. On the endpaper of this volume appears a handwritten list of women who read the book, all involved in some way with the White Hart Inn in Kettering, a town in Northamptonshire, England. This revelation provides previously unknown information regarding the informal circulation of books in England, as well as thoughts about the reading habits of women in eighteenth-century England.

Above: Title page of Gray's Poems.


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