In 2008, I worked on a project with four Wittenberg interns to develop short podcasts about Springfield's most significant buildings. Using research that I had collected over the previous five years, Sabrina Renkar, then a Senior English major, wrote the following podcast for Warder Library. I am posting it here in celebration of Warder Library’s 125 Birthday. While the podcast project was later scrapped due to the declining use of the medium, some of this material is slated for reuse in our new self-guided tours. Stay tuned for more information on that program in the near future. Until then, here is Sabrina Renkar's beautifully written piece on Warder Library:
It seems safe to suggest that the presence of a public library denotes not only an increase in a community’s size, but also a desire to establish a center of knowledge, free and open to all. It was just that desire that inspired civic-minded Benjamin H. Warder—of Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner, the firm that manufactured the Champion Reaper—to gift money for the establishment of a library. By 1890, design and construction of The Warder Library were completed. The building was conceived by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, the successors to the firm of preeminent American architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Warder, however, was no stranger to Richardsonian design: prior to the architect’s death in 1886, Warder commissioned Richardson to build the Warder family residence in Washington D.C. It is thought that he likely commissioned Richardson’s successors in hopes of achieving the same kind of architectural excellence with his library.
In addition, the same building company that constructed Warder’s Washington home—the Norcross Building Company—was contracted to build the library. With their design for The Warder Library, Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge sought to utilize Richardson’s signature design elements, such as tripartite arches, mixed, rough-stone construction, and foliate stone ornamentation, so that the building might be worthy of the praise that became synonymous with the Richardsonian style...