Historic Structures

Building Description Louis J. Bailey Branch Library - Gary International Institute, Gary Indiana

The Louis J. Bailey Branch Library-Gary International Institute is a single-story brick building on a raised, or English, basement. It is constructed in the Colonial Revival style. The library is located at the intersection of 15th Avenue and Madison Street in Gary's south side neighborhood. The building's main facade faces west onto Madison. 15th Avenue is located approximately twenty feet off the structure's north facade where it T's into Madison. Madison continues west from another T intersection just south of the structure. The library is located in a residential area with Froebel School located to the west, new community development housing to the north, and churches to the east and south.

The library's gable roof has asphalt shingles that likely cover remnants of original slate. The brick walls are laid in an English bond of alternating headers and stretchers. The walls have a water table, best described as a reduction in thickness set off by a row of angled brick headers. It causes the building to appear to be set on a base, and externally demarcates the floor level of the main interior space.

The library's main fagade is oriented west. The remains of a wrought iron fence that enclosed a small formal garden are located between the building and Madison Street. The building is accessed by a low terrace-like porch connected to the garden by stone steps. The porch has a brick cobble surface, and historically was enclosed with a stone balustrade of square end piers, and ornate balusters supported by stone rails.

The library's balanced west facade is comprised of the building's main block and a central, projecting flat-roofed entry block. Historically, the entry was divided into three bays by four square and fluted pilasters supporting an entablature. The pilasters have been removed, but had square bases and Corinthian-like capitals. The entablature has been covered, but had a plain frieze with square panels over each pilaster. The entablature's cornice was located at the eave height of the structure's main block, and below a short parapet wall. The three openings in the entry block mimic a Palladian window. The entry block's central bay has an arched window with a brick arch, stone keystone, and stone sill. The window has a fixed upper sash with six lights in the arch over two rows of four lights. The lower hanging sash has four rows of four lights. The northern-most bay has a rectangular window with a flat-arched brick lintel and a stone keystone. Its fixed upper sash has two rows of three lights, and the hanging lower sash has four rows of three lights.

The southern most bay has the entry. Its opening has a flat-arched brick lintel and a stone keystone. The wood door has three rows of three lights over panels. A decorative molding and a six light transom are located above the door. The windows and door are covered with plywood.

The library's main block extends identically on each side of the entry block. It consists of two evenly spaced, main floor windows oriented over two basement windows. The main floor windows have flat-arched brick lintels with a flat, stone keystone. The bottom of the window openings rest on the water table. The twelve-over-twelve double hung windows are located over wood panels, and historically had shutters. The window immediately south of the entry block is missing. The eight-over-eight basement windows are located in wells. The dentiled cornice that once topped the wall is no longer present.

A large Palladian window dominates the north facade. The window opening's top is lined with brick headers, and the bottom is supported by four wood panels that, in turn, rest on the water table. It has a central rectangular opening with a fixed, arched upper sash of six lights over two rows of four lights. The lower sash is missing, but had three rows of four lights. The central opening is flanked by fixed sash eight light windows, each below a small classical entablature, and between thin, square pilasters with small bases and capitals. One pilaster is missing. The small entablatures have a cornice with dentils, a plain frieze, and a modest architrave. A wood arch band is "carried" by the pilasters and entablatures. An arched frame with a keystone-like detail separates the arch window and wood arch band. A square, louvered opening is located in the gable's peak, and has a brick sill. The small eaves have small remaining sections of dentil molding. Historically, the gable had returns.

The south fagade has a smaller Palladian inspired arched window group. The windows are separated by brick, and have brick lintels and stone sills. The arched window has a fixed upper sash containing six arch lights over a row of four lights, and a lower hanging sash of two rows of four lights. The flanking windows have a fixed sash of four lights. A square, louvered opening is located in the gable's peak, and has a brick sill. Historically the gable had returns. Two eight-over-eight basement windows are located in wells.

The east facade is similar to the west in that it is balanced and has a central projecting block flanked by the main block of the building. The projecting block is covered by the extension of the main block's gable roof. It has four rectangular windows that are missing. The openings have stone sills, and are covered by plywood.

A single eight-over-eight basement window is located in a well. A concrete coal room is located east of the projecting block, and a brick chimney is located on its north side. The sections of the main block that flank the projecting block are nearly identical. Each has two square twelve-light casement windows with stone sills. The south flank has two eight-over-eight basement windows located in wells. The north flank has an exterior concrete stairwell that accesses the basement on the library's northeast corner. The stairwell is protected by a metal guardrail, and contains the basement door and an eight-over-eight double-hung window.

The library "foyer" is a midlevel stairwell landing in the front facade's projecting entry. The steps that ascend to the main floor are aligned on, or on axis with, the entry door, and the steps to the basement are on the landing's north end. The steps are constructed of marble and have partially collapsed.

The library's main floor interior is an impressive, open, arched ceiling, rectangular space nearly two stories in height. Historically, it was partitioned into three spaces: a central "operational" space with the stairs and circulation desk, and two flanking reading rooms. Unfortunately the elegant wood and glass partitions, and all of the bookshelves have been removed. The space has a vinyl-covered wood floor, and plaster walls and ceiling. The ceiling has lost large sections of plaster. The central space's circulation desk is comprised of a counter supported by a paneled base. A small utilitarian stairwell, for employee access to the basement, is located behind the service desk. The desk had an overhead section of wood moldings that helped defined its space, but has since fallen. A single-story height alcove is located on the space's east wall, and retains most of its window casings and wood moldings. The reading rooms show the "ghosts" of the original bookshelves. The Palladian windows at each gable end retain their impressive wood casings.

The library's basement is also divided into three primary spaces: a central utilitarian area, an auditorium, and two classrooms. The utilitarian area has a short, north to south oriented hallway. The two stairwells from the first floor enter from the hall's west side. The east side accesses a furnace room, storage closet, and men's and women's restrooms. The hall's north end opens into an auditorium space that has a door to the outside. The hall's south end connects to two classrooms. The basement's walls are plaster, the floor concrete, and the ceiling concrete but covered with acoustical tile. The woodwork is either stained dark, or painted white. Most of the doors exist, and most baseboards and cornices are intact. All the windows remain but are boarded over. Fluorescent lights have been added.