Julian Francis Abele led the Horace Trumbauer Company team of architects that designed the Central Library, constructed between 1917 and 1927. Abele was born in Philadelphia in 1881 and was the first African American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of fine Arts.
The Free Library of Philadelphia first began operating out of City Hall in 1894.
Source: Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City, 1994, p.100, John Andrew Gallery, 720.9748 P53A
The building at 19th and Vine Streets, setback from Logan Square, was designed by Horace Trumbauer's architectural firm, and opened on June 2, 1927.
The Free Library of Philadelphia was incorporated in 1891, upon the initiative of Dr. William Pepper, stimulated by a bequest from George S. Pepper. Due to litigation over the will, the library did not open until March 1894.
Source: GI Vertical File, Free Library -- Fact Sheet, March 1961
He was born in South Philadelphia in 1881 and died in 1950. Buildings he helped design include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Free Library, The Widener Library at Harvard University and campus buildings at Duke University.
The Rare Book Department houses “Grip,” Charles Dickens' pet Raven-now stuffed and mounted-which inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write one of the most famous poems in American literary history, “The Raven.” Grip was donated to the Free Library by Col. Richard Gimbel in 1971.
The fountain which was designed by Wilson Eyre, Jr. and Alexander Striling Calder, was opened to the public in July 1924. It was erected in memory of Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder of the Philadelphia Fountain Society. The fountain consists of three main figures; the girl with the swan represents the Wissahickon River, the woman with the swan the Schuykill River, and the figure with the fish the Delaware river.
The first library was a gift of 200 books made to Philadelphia's Anglican congregation by Maryland Bishop Thomas Bray in 1698.
Source: Weigley, Russell, Ed. Philadelphia; A 300-Year History. New York: Norton, 1982. p. 31