Rosenberg LibraryRoenberg Library
2310 Sealy Street, Galveston, TX 77550-2220
(409) 763-8854
fax (409) 763-0275
Library Information

Rosenberg Library:   History   ► Founder   ► Directors and Trustees   ► The Building   ► Restoration  ► CollectionPolicy

Grand Opening

Board of Directors & Trustees

wood detail
Hon. Frank T. Carmona
Michael C. Doherty
James B. Earthman, III
Vice President
Eugene Hornstein
David P. Salyer
Michael B. Hughes
John W. Kelso
J. Fellman Seinsheimer, III
Harris L. Kempner, Jr.
Assistant Secretary
Allan W. Matthews
Billie Hoskins
Douglas G. Rogers
William W. Sullivan
Roland L. Bassett
Dancie Perugini Ware
Fred C. Burns
Honorary Trustees
Pamela S. Froeschner
Edward Randall, III
Fred D. Raschke
Risher Randall
Trustees Emeriti
Executive Director
Fredrick J. Bradford
John F. Augelli

Rosenberg Library Executive Directors
John Augelli, 409 - 763 - 8854 ext. 114, 2002 - Present
Nancy Milnor 1992 - 2001
John Hyatt 1964 - 1992
Charles O'Halloran 1959 - 1963
Raymond M. Fry 1958 - 1959
Bill Holman 1954 - 1958
Lamar Wallace 1947 - 1954
Joseph Selwyn Ibbottson 1936 - 1946
Arthur Curry 1934 - 1936
Frank Patten 1902 - 1934

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Library History

Library pre Moody WingRosenberg Library has offered over a century of community service to the Galveston area. The building itself was dedicated on June 22, 1904, the birthday of its patron, Henry Rosenberg. The Moody Memorial Wing opened in 1971, more than doubling the floor space and allowing for a children's library, a history center, several galleries to showcase museum collections, and later, a computer lab.

reading roomSuccessor to the Galveston Mercantile Library, which was founded in 1871, Rosenberg Library is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation. With funding provided through a bequest from Henry Rosenberg, the Rosenberg Library Association was organized pursuant to a charter granted by the State of Texas on July 10, 1900, as a private corporation to give free library service to all Galvestonians. Since its incorporation the institution has been governed by a board of twenty trustees, who meet annually to elect a nine-member board of directors.

Library 1910A plot of land at the northwest corner of Tremont and Sealy was purchased for $18,500 on May 15, 1901, on which to erect the building. The Board of Directors employed Alfred F. Rosenheim of St. Louis as consulting architect in a competition for the design of the building amongst Ackerman & Ross of New York, Eames & Young of St. Louis, Thomas H. Kimball of Omaha, and local Galveston architects. Two local architects, George B. Stowe and Conlon & Koeppe, were awarded prizes of $250 each for their designs, but the award for the work was ultimately given to Eames & Young for a "fire-proof building with two stories and basement, to cost $100,000, the building to contain rooms for the usual library departments with a capacity of 60,000 volumes, and also to contain a lecture hall to seat 500 or more people." The construction of the building was contracted to Harry Devlin of Galveston, at a final cost of $155,000.

entryRosenberg Library officially opened for inspection June 22, 1904, Henry Rosenberg's birthday, and to the public the following day. A year later it absorbed the collections of the Galveston Public Library, thus formalizing its new role as the public library for the city of Galveston.

The Galveston and Texas History Center, for example, collects materials relating to Galveston and early Texas. Major manuscript collections include the papers of Samuel May Williams, Gail Borden, John Grant Tod, Jr., and James Morgan; the records of several nineteenth and early twentieth century businesses, including those of Harris Kempner, Henry M. Trueheart, and J. C. League; the records of several organizations and churches in the area; and twentieth-century collections reflecting recent events and activities in Galveston and the upper Gulf Coast.

Above text regarding the library history was taken from "ROSENBERG LIBRARY" - The Handbook of Texas Online

Rosenberg Library, September 2010On September 13, 2008, the Rosenberg Library was inundated with flood waters during Hurricane Ike, the most destructive hurricane to hit the island since the Great Storm of 1900.  Fortunately, the building did not sustain any structural damage, as an extensive repair project on the exterior had just been completed in July of that year for which it received a Galveston Historical Foundation Sally B. Wallace Preservation Award.

Immediately following the hurricane, the library underwent various renovations to its operational systems that had been vulnerable to flood damage. This was followed by new, more energy efficient, interior lighting and some needed flooring on the third and fourth floors of the Moody Wing. In the summer of 2010, two years after the storm, further restoration of the building's interior was undertaken to return the Rosenberg Wing to its original style and beauty.

We are very proud of our island treasure and thank you, our patrons, for being a part of it.

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Henry Rosenberg  (1824 - 1893)

Henry Rosenberg, Galveston business leader and philanthropist, was born in Bilten, Glarus Canton, Switzerland, on June 22, 1824, to Johann Rudolf and Waldburg (Blum) Rosenberg. With limited educational opportunities, he went to work at seventeen in a textile factory, where he and Henry RosenbergJohn Hessly, the son of his employer, became friends. Rosenberg followed Hessly to Galveston, Texas, where he arrived in February 1843 to work as a clerk in Hessly's dry-goods store. He purchased half interest in the store and acquired the remainder in three years' time, then built it into the leading dry-goods store in the state by 1859.

Henry Rosenberg birthplaceRosenberg became a financier and investor and was active in banking, real estate, and transportation. In 1866 he was appointed vice consul of Switzerland for the state of Texas. He became Swiss consul three years later and held that position until his death. He began banking as a director of the First National Bank of Galveston in 1868 and expanded his interests in 1871, when he became president of the Galveston City Railroad Company. He was appointed city alderman the same year and served until 1872 as chairman of the licenses and assessments committee. He served a second term from 1885 to 1887 and chaired the finance and revenue committee. He twice served on the city library committee. He helped organize the Galveston Bank and Trust Company in 1874 and served as its president and manager. After buying out the other stockholders, he continued the bank under the name of H. Rosenberg, Banker, and functioned as its sole stockholder.

Henry RosenbergRosenberg was also president of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company from 1874 to 1877, during which time the company laid its first fifty miles of track. He served as vice president of the Galveston Wharf Company from 1889 until his death. He was a vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church from 1868 to 1883; he contributed about half the cost of construction of Eaton Memorial Chapel in 1882. He withdrew his membership in 1884 and became active in Grace Church. In 1886 he donated the Rosenberg Free School to the city of Galveston. Rosenberg married Letitia Cooper of Virginia on June 11, 1851. She died on June 4, 1888. He married Mollie Ragan Macgill (see ROSENBERG, MOLLIE) of Hagerstown, Maryland, on November 13, 1889. Both marriages were childless. Rosenberg died at Galveston on May 12, 1893, and was buried in Ludon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Henry Rosenberg homeRosenberg's civic contributions were not fully realized until after his death. His will provided bequests to family and friends, followed by bequests to various charitable and religious causes. Allotted in his will were $30,000 each to the Galveston Orphans' Home, Grace Episcopal Church, Letitia Rosenberg Women's Home and a fund to put seventeen drinking fountains "for man and beast" around Galveston. Rosenberg's will also provided $65,000 for the construction of a building for the Galveston Young Men's Christian Association and $50,000 for erection of a heroes' monument commemorating the Texas Revolution.  All of these projects were completed between 1895 and 1900. The rest of Rosenberg's estate, more than $600,000, provided for a free public library for the people of Galveston, the first free public library in the state.

Above text regarding Henry Rosenberg was taken from "ROSENBERG, HENRY" - The Handbook of Texas Online

Memorial Book excerpt

Foreword to the publication Henry Rosenberg, 1824-1893: to commemorate the gifts of Henry Rosenberg to Galveston.

Available from the Rosenberg Library  
or Online at Google Books

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Discover Rosenberg Library
 a library information series:  the structure of Rosenberg Library

Beginning in October of 2011, the library website began an information series designed to give patrons and visitors to the site a closer look at the many special rooms and features of the library.  The first in this series "discovers" the library cornerstone of this early 1900 building constructed in the late Italian Renaissance style. The list below will expand with each new "discovery." We hope you enjoy them.

The Cornerstone
Sandy's Room
The Gibson Reading Room
The Fox Rare Book Room
The McCullough Room
The Hutchings Gallery
Friends Reading Room & Book Shop
The Rosenberg Library Museum
The Jean Scrimgeour Morgan Room
The Randall Room
The Galveston & Texas History Center
Librarian's Offices
First Floor Renovation 2013 Children's Department

Do you have a question about the Rosenberg Library building or some part of it that piques your interest? Let us know, and maybe we can help you. Email

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Library Restoration

The library completed a major restoration project to its exterior in July of 2008, and while further restoration and improvement of the interior was planned, a devastating hurricane hit Galveston Island two months later on September 13, 2008, altering those plans.  In the months following Hurricane Ike's extensive damage to the library’s first floor, the staff and Board of Directors of the Rosenberg Library  focused on a phased restoration of services to patrons and the relocation of vital building systems to the upper floors of the library.

Summer & Fall 2010

The 2010 building improvement project focused on the restoration of the second and fourth floors of the Rosenberg Wing of the building, including major HVAC and museum storage upgrades. The scope of the restoration work encompassed painting and plaster repairs to the Grand Hallway, Founder's Room, historical staircases, the complete renovation of the Gibson Reading Room, cage area, McCullough Meeting Room, Fox Meeting Room, new carpeting for the Rosenberg Wing second and fourth floor hallways, replacement of the building's aging chillers and the ancient air handlers in the Rosenberg Wing attic with new energy efficient equipment and the creation of better climate controlled storage spaces for our museum collections. This round of interior improvements was funded by generous grants from the Houston Endowment, the Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund, the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, a bequest from Hugh & Evalyn Gibson, as well as many donations from other foundations and patrons. The library would like to extend appreciation to the architectural firm and contractors responsible for this series of renovations: Ford, Powell & Carson and Building Solutions.

recoveryProbably the most devastating blow the library received from Hurricane Ike was the destruction of the building systems located on the first floor, including the loss of the major electrical panels, the telephone system, Internet routing equipment, library materials security system, components of the HVAC (heating and air conditioning), elevator systems, storm protection panels, control panel of the fire and smoke detection system,   the   building  security system and the video monitoring system.

A slide show of the Hurricane Ike devastation and the library recovery can be seen by clicking here.

2011 and the future

As of October, 2011, the Board of Directors and staff of the Rosenberg Library were in the process of finalizing plans for the library’s next major building renovation project, and in July of 2012, bids were awarded for the work. The much awaited Phase V project will focus on the redesign and reconstruction of approximately 65% of the first floor of the library building which was devastated in September 2008 by the storm surge associated with Hurricane Ike. The planned improvements include a new children’s library, circulation department, renovation of two of the largest meeting rooms in the building, a new lobby area, ADA accessible restrooms and a complete rebuild of the main public entrances of the building.

The goal of the Phase V project is to restore and enhance public service areas which were formerly located on the first floor and to make that area less vulnerable to flood damage in the future. The new children’s area will feature an integrated, visually inviting space with a variety of seating and activity areas, shelving for print and audio visual materials, state-of-the-art computer equipment and electronic resources designed to engage children. The new area will also feature its own high speed wireless router and direct access to programming facilities in the newly restored Wortham Auditorium and Randall Meeting Room.

Rosenberg LibraryThe Phase V project will also include a glassed-in computer work area specifically for students on the library’s mezzanine level. In addition, improvements to the library’s HVAC (heating and air conditioning) system are also planned. As part of the planned renovations, flood gates, aquarium glass and other flood control measures will be installed to protect the facility from a 500 year flood event.

The library greatly appreciates all sponsors of the ongoing repairs and restoration of our island treasure and extends the opportunity to everyone to participate. 


Grand Opening
Phase V restoration was completed and the first floor was reopened to the public on July 17, 2013. Thanks to many generous donations, the architectural firms of Ford Powell & Carson and Gensler, and the Vaughn Construction Company, Rosenberg Library is now offering the Galveston Community the highest standards in children's library services in a beautiful new setting, as well as state-of-the-art technology for self-check and intelligent materials return handling.

View pictures of the newly restored first floor and Randall room by clicking here.

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