Wind shook the windowpanes and water dripped from the skylights. Collapsing plaster ceilings forced employees to take shelter under tables, all in the finest building ever erected by the state of New Hampshire, its library. Recently work began to renovate the first state library in the nation, a pink-and-gray granite Italian Renaissance structure on Park Street. The effects of decades of deferred maintenance are slowly being erased.
The library is open to the public, but unlike city libraries, it's designed to serve researchers, not readers of popular novels. It holds the history of the state's Legislature and laws, the genealogies of countless New Hampshire families, more than 150 years of annual reports from every town.
According to the Concord Monitor, first-time visitors should come to view not its documents but the building's amazing architecture. The library's entrance is framed by columns of polished granite. Inside are massive fireplaces, swirling Sienna marble wainscoting the color of butterscotch, marble mosaic floors with multicolored decorative borders, a dedication plaque made by Tiffany Studios, magnificent plasterwork unaffordable today, fine antiques, gleaming brass light fixtures and a domed chamber that until 1970 held the state Supreme Court.