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Library house are Tues. - Saturday 9 a.m.
- 5 p.m. Free tours of the library are offered Thursdays at 3
p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. We arrived about 2:30 for the 3
We took advantage of the discounted parking available at the garage
located at 100 W. Chestnut for $7 with validation at the
Newberry's front desk. We met Roy Jackson, from south of Chicago,
and others joined the group at 3 pm. There were lockers for our
backpacks, etc. for 25 cents, and we were taken by Karen up to a
conference/reception room. Karen, our guide, had worked at the
Newberry since 1967. We sat at a single slab redwood table
(below) and Karen began telling us about the Newberry.
The Newberry Library is a two-million volume research library in the
humanities, European and American. The founder was Walter
L. Newberry from New York. He was a businessman, educated by his
brothers who had businesses in Detroit. One of his businesses was
ship building. After the Detroit fire, he came to this spot in
Chicago in 1833. He 'bought by the acre, and sold by the frontage
foot.' He opened the first Savings and Loan Bank in
Chicago. He was a member of the group that opened the first
lending library in Chicago. He lead a tragic family life, his 4
sons died in infancy and his 2 daughters got TB. He relacated his
family in Nice, France, at Mr. Newberry's retirement in 1868.
Upon Mr. Newberry's death, he willed 1/2 of his estate to the lending
library, located north of the river in Chicago. This was written
in a will just before he boarded a ship to see his wife and daughters
in Nice. He died on the way to Nice on the ship. They
returned his body, most often those who died onboard ship were burried
at sea, to Chicago in a barrel of rum. He was burried in
Graceland (where Pullman is burried).
All was lost in the Chicago Fire, north of the river, except a mansion
on this spot and the Unity Church across the corner.
Both girls died in their 20s and Mrs. Newberry returned to Utica,
NY. When she died, there was a $2.25 million endowment that was
used to start the Newberry Library.
Classes are taught in the Library, 3 sessions a year. Their
catalog is online.
Knowing we were a railroad group, Karen mentioned that the railroad
archives are in the Special Collections Dept. of the Library.
There are donated libraries from: Pullman, Burlington, CBQ &
IC. There are many maps in the library, as well as many railroad
maps, and the Map Society meets the 3rd Thursday of each month.