Sunday, May 10, 2009

Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library

Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library is a cornerstone of Harvard University. It is connected to one of the largest tragedies at sea, the Titanic disaster.

Harry Elkins Widener was 27 years old, and a Harvard graduate when he entered the Titanic in Cherbourg, France with his father and mother.

His father George Dunton Widener was a successful business man from Philadelphia and resided at Lynnewood Hall a 110 room mansion outside Philadelphia.

It was to be the first and last journey of the large Atlantic steamer and it tragically split up the Widener family. As the ship hit the ice berg, George Widener placed his wife and her maid on one of the life boats. They survived, whereas Georg Dunton and Harry Elkins Widener went down with the Titanic.

As her soon was a book collector, Eleanor Elkins, made a $3,5 million donation to Harvard University to build a library commemorating him. It was designed by the prominent Afro-American architect Julian Abele and was opened in 1915.

It is a vast building, larger than most other buildings at Harvard. One main facade face Harvard Square, the other Harvard Yard. It is designed as a classic temple dedicated to the book. The Widener Library is a part of Harvard University Library that holds over 15 million volumes, and is the home of many treasures, including one of 48 remaining bibles printed by Johann Gutenberg.

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