John Carter Brown Library, Brown University

John Carter Brown Library Door Restoration
Project Summary

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Noteworthy: Replicating historic millwork and retaining original doors in the construction of a new accessible building entrance

M&A’s Scope: Interior and exterior millwork of the entranceway; door and hardware restoration

Owner: Brown University

Architect: Perkins Eastman Architects DPC

General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction

John Carter Brown (1797-1874) came from a family of readers who collected books. It was in 1846 when he initiated one of the great collections of “Americana.” His private collection became a research library in 1904 at 94 George Street on the corner of the main green at Brown University.

An excerpt from the John Carter Brown mission statement includes “…preserving, expanding, and providing enhanced access to its world-renowned collection, the John Carter Brown Library inspires scholarship, stimulates innovative and creative engagement with its materials, and connects communities around the world with the history and culture of the early Americas.”

This project at the John Carter Brown library was focused on literally enhancing access to the library, part of the “Welcome and Access Project’. M&A Architectural Preservation was pleased to apply its restoration expertise to enable full accessibility to the building housing this extraordinary collection of books, maps and materials.

Work Completed by M&A:

While the changes to this gorgeous building were modest in relative terms, the undertaking that was part of the ‘Welcome and Access Project’ was described as huge in its practical and symbolic significance; a careful and elegant renovation of the front of the building.

M&A dismantled the original cornice, fabricated a new cornice to fit over the new accessible entrance, and refinished it to match the historic stained interior in the vestibule. This required reconfiguring the original cornice profile to accommodate the constraints of the reduced height of the opening, while maintaining as much of the original design as possible.

The original pair of exterior doors, along with their decorative hardware, were removed from the entry, cleaned, refreshed and reinstalled with the swing reversed.

Additionally, we were able to assist with patching and matching millwork in the historic vestibule to accommodate other upgrades of the interior space.

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