Ground-breaking occurred in the spring of 1899 and the cornerstone was laid in May of 1899. The building opened on Labor Day, September 3, 1900. The opening of the library was extensively covered in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. The building is in the Neo-classical style. It features a raised main floor with broad steps from Washington Avenue to a portico with six Ionic columns. The central interior room, originally known as the delivery room, is surmounted by a dome forty-six feet above the floor. It is flanked by reading rooms, alcoves and offices that served various functions over the years. The west room was set aside for children by early in 1901. The special multi-level bookstack that initially held 30,000 volumes had an ultimate capacity of 100,000 volumes.
The Library Lions
The bronze lions that have symbolized the Oshkosh Public Library since 1912. According to his contemporaries, the architect William Waters envisioned decorative sculpture for the imposing entrance to the building. Initial efforts to include acquisition of sculpted lions in the project budget were not successful, nor was a subsequent effort to have stone lions done. After a number of other gifts of sculpture to the City and the library, John Hicks commissioned a pair of life-size bronze lions from Gaetano Trentanove and presented them to the Oshkosh Public Library. They were put in position on October 7, 1912 and were publicly unveiled Wednesday afternoon, October 9, 1912.
Information provided by the Oshkosh Public Library