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 Fox Room
hen the library was originally designed, the fourth floor (referred to then as the second floor) contained a large lecture hall, a Special Collections office, a meeting room, and the Children's Department. A description of the original space is provided in the book Henry Rosenberg 1824-1893
"The second story corridor has a large leaded glass skylight of simple geometric design in colors. Opening from this corridor are the children's rooms, class room, special collections room, and the large lecture hall. The children's rooms occupy the whole east end of the second story, the entrance to which is through an oak grille partition. These rooms have beautiful carved oak mantels, oak pilasters with carved caps, oak ceiling beams and specially designed oak shelving and furniture The story room has specially designed book cases with glass fronts for the finely bound and illustrated books. ... The partition separating the story room is largely of oak grille work needed in the long summer to admit freely the sea breezes. Transoms and heavy shades running in grooves serve to shut off the room during story hour or the meeting of a study club. The exhibit cases are a special feature of the children's rooms."
When the Children's Department moved to a lower floor, the space it had occupied was used for exhibits and meetings. You can see a replica of the "oak grille partition" in the 2010-2011 renovated main floor. This design has been used leading to both the Friends Reading Room and the Gibson Reading Room
Upon the death of Agness Fox, a leading citizen of Galveston, and according to an endowment she left to the library, the space was dedicated as The Colonel Milo Pitcher Fox and Agness Peel Fox Rare Book Room
on December 10, 1967. Nearly all of the furnishings in the room were antiques from the Fox home, including a flip-top mahogany card table that had once belonged to Alexander Hamilton.
Among the collection of rare books originally exhibited was an 1803 volume titled "Seasons" by James Thomson. When the pages of the book are "pushed up" to fan the edges in one direction, they reveal one drawing, and when fanned in the opposite direction, a different picture appears. The oldest book that was on display was printed in 1487.
Following the death of Mrs. Fox, the Galveston Daily News
printed an article describing the room and collection.
"Mrs. Milo Pitcher Fox made the Rosenberg Library her principal beneficiary, bequeathing to it funds for the establishment and furnishing of a rare books room and an endowment of approximately $200,000. The income from the endowment provides operating funds for the room. The Rare Book Room is located in space formerly occupied first by the children's department and then by the library's exhibit and meeting room.
"At Mrs. Fox's request, Bernard Spitzer served as interior decorator for the Rare Book Room, which is furnished almost entirely with antique furniture from the Fox home. The seven-piece Baccarat crystal and ormolu centerpiece set and the display of part of the Lalique crystal given to the library by Victor Neale give an additional touch of elegance to this library showplace. The Fox Room houses the library's collections of incunabula (books printed before the year 1500) and other examples of early printing, manuscripts, books in fine bindings, important first editions, etc."
The Fox Rare Book Room housed the collections of the Rosenberg Library's predecessor, the Galveston Public Library (founded in 1870), and offered researchers and bibliophiles alike a comfortable place to peruse a plethora of books and documents. The Fox endowment even permitted the hiring of a new staff member to manage the collection and assist researchers.
An aging roof eventually caught up with the Fox Room, and in 1999 the collection was moved to the vault in the Galveston and Texas History Center in the library's Moody Wing to ensure its safekeeping.
Since then, substantial exterior and interior renovations begun prior to Hurricane Ike
's arrival in 2008 and completed in 2011 converted the Fox Room into a beautiful historic meeting space available for public use
. It was officially re-opened to the public in July of 2011, marking the completion of the library’s Phase IV renovations, which also included new fourth floor gallery exhibits
Agness Peel Fox was born Oct. 13, 1896, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She served on the Board of Lady Managers of the Galveston Orphans' Home for many years and was the board's first director. She also was a member of the board of The Yeager Home. Colonel Fox was a West Point Graduate, retired in 1945. He served with General John J. Pershing, and was one-time chief of the Rivers and Harbors Bureau. He was awarded various medals and awards for his service in both World Wars and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
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Also, see the other entries in this Discover series by clicking here