Boston Public Library - Bates Hall
General information about Bates Hall
The reference reading room is named after Joshua Bates, who gave $50,000 so that a large reading room at the Boston Public Library could be built. The goal was to provide that "the building shall be such as to be an ornament to the City, that there shall be a room for one hundred to one hundred and fifty persons to sit at reading tables, and that it be perfectly free to all."
The reading room was created by Charles Follen McKim.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the library opened in 1852 as the first free, publicly supported municipal library in America. The library didn't open to the public until 1895.
In 2014, The Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center took up temporary residence in the Bates Hall. The business center has been relocated to the lower level of the Johnson Building. From 1930 to 2009 it was located at 20 City Hall Avenue, in 2009 it was moved to be part of the central library. It was moved to Bates Hall during the reconstruction of the Johnson building.
Bates Hall makes a great venue for company parties and wedding receptions. You can get more information at the Boston Public Library event page.
About Joshua Bates
Joshua Bates was born on October 10, 1788, in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was an international financier. He acquired much of his wealth as a senior partner of Baring Brother & Company of London.
Hethe first major contributor to the country's first municipally supported library. He donation $50,000 in 1852 to help jump start the library. (That would be equivalent to $1,437,450.60 in 2015) He also gave 30,000 volumes to the library.
Joshua died on September 24, 1864, and is buried at the Kensal Green Cemetery in Kensal Green, Greater London, England.
List of Busts that are in Bates Hall
|Joshua Bates||International Financier||October 10, 1788 - September 24, 1864|
|Wendell Phillips||American abolitionist, advocate for Native Americans, orator and lawyer||November 29, 1811 - February 2, 1884|
|Thomas Gold Appleton||American writer, an artist, and a patron of the fine arts.||March 31, 1812 - April 17, 1884|
|Sir Walter Scott||Scottish Historical Novelist, Playwright and Poet||August 15, 1771 - September 21, 1832|
|Benjamin Franklin||Founding Fathers of the United States||1706-1790|
|George Ticknor||American Academician and Hispanist||August 1, 1791 - January 26, 1871|
|Henry Wadsworth Longfellow||Author and Personality||February 27, 1807 - March 24, 1882|
|William Whitwell Greenough||Boston Merchant and Politician||1818 - 1899|
|James Fenimore Cooper||Popular Writer of the early 19th century||September 15, 1789 - September 14, 1851|
|Edward Everett||Massachusetts Politician||April 11, 1794 - January 15, 1865|
|John Joseph Williams||American bishop of the Roman Catholic Church||April 27, 1822 - August 30, 1907|
|Hugh O'Brien||31st Mayor of Boston||July 13, 1827 - August 1, 1895|
|Oliver Wendell Holmes||Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States||March 8, 1841 - March 6, 1935|
- Bates Hall is 218 feet long, 42.5 feet wide, and 50 feet high
- There are 16 floor lights in the room
- There are 28 tables and 8 chairs to a table, total room capacity is 224
- Each table has two green lamps
- At the base of each green lamp are seat numbers that are used by the librarian runners
- There is a clock on both sides of the hall
- There are two reference rooms, on both sides of the Hall. You can ask for help with a reserved book from these location.
- Congressional Record books are on the South side of the hall near the Kristen Science Center side
- Seat #1 is near the Kristen Business Branch side
- Oliver Wendell Holmes is the only person to have a bust in the Bates Hall who was born after the library was opened to the public.
- Helen Keller visited Bates Hall on April 26, 1892
Some Interesting Books/Collections around Bates Hall
- All the books that align the shelves in Bates Hall are Social Science Reference Books
- You can find reference books in just about every city and town in Massachusetts. Find out which city/town started out as Danforth Farms.
- The Boylston Room, next to Bates Hall, has Documentary History books of all the Presidents.
- Along one of the walls in Bates Hall is a set of bright red books that contain Catalog abstracts of all the Declassified Government Documents.
- You can find the latest law books in Bates Hall.
Some people think that Bates Hall is "internationally recognized as perhaps the single most beautiful room in America." On your next trip to Boston, stop at the Boston Public Library and check out Bates Hall.