“The ideas and planning of many people went into the realization of this building, but its final form as we see it today is the creation of the architect Marcel Breuer. He visualized the building not as a mere repository of books but as a social, cultural, and civic crystallization point. Literature and art were to be made more accessible in an inviting home-like atmosphere. In addition to designing the building, Breuer also furnished it and laid out a plan for embellishing it with works of art.”
W. Hawkins Ferry, 1954
Central Library was built in 1953 and was designed by Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer. The Bauhaus was a school in Weimar, Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts. Founded by Walter Gropius, the school operated from 1919 to 1933 and promoted the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art,” which was an integrated approach to design and a hallmark of the Bauhaus movement and aesthetic.
The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design and had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.
Central Library was included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch as part of the “Main Street Modern” category to encourage alternatives to demolition and build community support for preservation of modern architecture. The library exemplifies the post-war use of industrial materials and innovative technologies and represents a shift in American architecture when modernism was preferred over traditional styles to show progress and ingenuity.
The Central Branch of the Grosse Pointe Public Library, a gift to the Grosse Pointe Community from Dexter M. Ferry and Murray Sales, was designed by renowned Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer. Central was one of Breuer’s first major public commissions in the United States. It is an important piece of American architectural and social history, and we endeavor to be stewards of this gift, and share with the community and the world the importance of this building and the art within.
The Breuer Preservation Fund was established in June 2013 to preserve and maintain the art and architectural integrity of the Central Library, the only Marcel Breuer-designed building in the Detroit area, in the spirit in which it was built. The success of the Fund was instrumental in the restoration of the four major works of art in 2016.
The goals of the Breuer Preservation Fund are:
- Period-appropriate improvements to the Central Library Branch.
- Advocacy initiatives focused on the Bauhaus movement, modern art and modern design.
- To support acquisitions specific to the mid-century modern aesthetic including furniture and décor.
- Placemaking- to strengthen the connection between people and community.