Ithaca, N.Y. — As part of our #ThrowbackThursday series, The Ithaca Voice is taking a look back at Cornell’s Uris Library.

Our previous TBT stories have looked at Ithacans taking in the gorges, grappling with construction and enjoying the lakes.

But while those photo essays struck us by how much our landscape has, in some ways, changed, the photos of Uris Library had an opposite effect … at least for the outside of the building:

Uris Library in 2013. (Courtesy of Matt Hintsa via Flickr)
Courtesy of the History Center of Tompkins County.

Uris Library was opened on Oct. 7, 1891, — the 23rd anniversary of the day classes first began.

That’s according to Anne Kenney, Cornell librarian, who narrated a short video about the history of Uris.

(Image courtesy of Cornell)

According to Kenney, “Its completion fulfilled (Cornell founder) AD White’s dream of what he called, ‘The noblest structure in the land.’”

The building was designed by Cornell’s first architecture student, William Henry Miller.

(Courtesy of Cornell)

Kenney says: “For a university famously founded as a non-sectarian institution, the new library building was Andrew Dickson White’s ‘secular cathedral’ devoted to books and learning.”

(Courtesy of Cornell)

Harold D. Uris, a Cornell graduate and philanthropist, was a trustee and member of the Buildings and Properties Committee.

White donated his entire collection of 30,000 books to the Cornell University Library.

Below, the AD White Reading Room, within Uris Library.

Uris and the adjacent Olin Library hold 2 million volumes combined, according to Cornell.

Uris remains a popular study spot on campus today.


(Thanks for the help from the good folks at the History Center in Tompkins County.)


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.