A large part of the original funding for the Burlington Free Public Library came from local philanthropist Philip M. Crapo. The library was built in 1896-1898 for $55,000 and replaced a subscription library from 1868. This dressed red sandstone building is stunning inside and out and is open to the public. The copper gutters and flashing have acquired a green patina that creates quite a handsome accent to the red stone. Its exterior represents a variety of styles including Italian Villa, Renaissance Revival, Georgian Revival, and pre -Prairie School characteristics. The square Italianate style open tower has a slate roof. This building became listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
In 2006, the Burlington Public Library moved to its new location, and the Heritage Center Museum moved into this building. Anyone who has a passion for history and architecture should make an effort to tour the museum. This is one of the few buildings in the Lightscape Project that has not suffered from a fire, so the original interior is still very much intact. A large, recently restored leaded glass skylight brings natural light into a rotunda with an Italian mosaic floor, a restored stained glass window depicting Hypatia (a female philosopher, mathematician, and scientist from ancient Alexandria). On the second floor is a three-dimensional wall sculpture that commemorates the Civil War.
Viewing of this building is best from the intersection of 4th Street and Washington, where its style compliments the five other steeples visible from this location. For a more panoramic view, head to the 550 Division Street parking lot to see the seven steeples on North Hill bluff and Downtown Burlington.
501 North 4th Street
Burlington, IA 52601
Tuesday - Saturday 10-5 PM
Sunday 12-4 PM
Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi
Des Moines County Heritage Center Museum