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

A library information series designed to give patrons and visitors to the site a closer look at the many special rooms and features of the Rosenberg Library.  

ROSENBERG LIBRARY - the Cornerstone

In 1901, the Rosenberg Library's Board of Directors held a national competition to select the designer of its building and ultimately chose the architectural firm of Eames & Young of St. Louis. The cornerstone of the building was laid on Saturday, October 18, 1902. According to the Rosenberg Library Board of Directors publication Henry Rosenberg, 1824-1893 ("To commemorate the gifts of Henry Rosenberg to Galveston"), the building is of the late Italian Renaissance style.

The following narrative includes excerpts and photos from that publication.

Rosenberg Library 1904
Rosenberg Library ca. 1904

“THE corner-stone of the Rosenberg Library was laid on Saturday, October 18, 1902, by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. and A.M., Marcus F. Mott, P.G.M., acting as Grand Master. The Masonic bodies gathered at the Masonic Temple at three o'clock and marched in procession organized by Grand Marshal James J. Davis to the library site. Tiedemann's band headed the procession, which was escorted by San Felipe de Austin Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar.

Laying the cornerstone of Rosenberg Library

“On the platform were seated Mrs. Rosenberg and her immediate friends and family, the officers and trustees of the Rosenberg Library Association, the City Commissioners, the County Commissioners, and other prominent officials and citizens. About twelve hundred people, standing within the enclosure or on the streets, witnessed the ceremony. Immediately around the corner-stone were assembled the Knights Templar and the Blue Lodge Masons.

“Music by the band introduced the program. The Masonic ceremony of Laying the Foundation Stone followed. The Masonic invocation was by Rev. John K. Black, of Grace Church, who officiated as Grand Chaplain. The following were the Grand Officers of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Texas, acting for the occasion:

R. W. MARCUS F. MOTT .... Grand Master
W. FRANK M. WALKER .... Deputy Grand Master
W. EDWARD C. PITKIN .... Grand Senior Warden
W. BEN C. HILL .... Grand Junior Warden
W. ISIDORE LOVENBERG .... Grand Treasurer
W. LEOPOLD WEISS .... Grand Secretary
W. JOHN K. BLACK .... Grand Chaplain
W. JAMES B. STUBBS .... Grand Orator
R. W. JAMES J. DAVIS, D. D. G. M. .... Grand Marshal
W. ROWLAND P. ALLEN .... Grand Senior Deacon
W. JAMES M. FENDLEY .... Grand Junior Deacon
W. DOMINIC D. MCDONALD .... Grand Senior Steward
W. JOHN HANNA .... Grand Junior Steward
W. HENRY C. OPPERMANN .... Grand Pursuivant Bro.
WILLIAM R. EATON .... Grand Tiler

Rosenberg Library cornerstone

James B Stubbs
James B. Stubbs
Photo Courtesy
Texas State
Preservation Board
William S. Eames
William S. Eames
Photo Courtesy
Landmarks Assoc.,
St. Louis, Mo.


Galveston Daily News clipEames, the St. Louis architect who designed the building, was in Galveston for the cornerstone ceremony, along with the Masons and other dignitaries, including the City Commissioners. The Masons assembled at the Masonic Temple at three o'clock in the afternoon and marched "down Center Street to Strand, west to Tremont, and thence south to the library site, corner of Sealy Avenue and Tremont Street." (Galveston Daily News, Sunday, October 19, 1902)

The Daily News noted that approximately 1200 people standing nearby on the streets witnessed the event. The ceremony included depositing "a few drops of wine (symbolic of cheerfulness and joy), and a few drops of oil (symbolic of prosperity and happiness), a small amount of salt (symbolic of hospitality and fidelity) ... in a tin receptacle," inside the cornerstone, along with the following items: copy of the will of Henry Rosenberg, Articles of Incorporation of the Library Association, photos of Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg, copy of the ordinance for the Galveston sea wall construction, copies of the Galveston News, Opera Glass and Galveston Tribune, a map of the City of Galveston, printed copy of the cornerstone ceremony, and various newspaper clippings regarding the Rosenbergs and their gifts to Galveston. The news clippings were wrapped in a letter from Governor Joseph D. Sayers, April 14, 1900, to Mrs. Rosenberg, and placed in an envelope along with "a Jefferson Davis monument fund subscribing member's button." (Henry Rosenberg 1824-1893.)

Grand Marshall James Stubbs addressed the crowd. Following is an excerpt from his speech:

“Through their books the great and the good talk to us, and this intercourse will now be within the reach of all. After all, books are to the great majority of us a retreat from turmoil and trouble, a haven of rest, a refuge from care. Their intellectual companionship is true wealth. They open a vast realm where are collected the fruit of scientific research, of philosophical reasoning, of bright imagination, of tender sentiment, of heroic impulse, of wit, of wisdom, and of worship. In the world of letters all distinction of caste or wealth is as naught. The poor man can there obtain as much of benefit and entertainment as the millionaire. Such men as Rosenberg and Carnegie have nobly realized this.”

The cornerstone October 18, 2011:

Cornerstone inscription - October 2011

Cornerstone in October 2011 showing October 18, 1902 date

Note:  Masons lay the cornerstone of a building on the northeast corner.

Do you have a question about the Rosenberg Library building or somepart of it that piques your interest?  Let us know, and maybewe can help you.  Email   Also, see the other entries in this Discover series by clicking here.