Lake Forest Library


The Library was chartered on July 4, 1898 by Mayor Edward F. Gorton and opened on the second floor of the new city hall on June 24, 1899. The Library moved to its current location in 1931.

The present Library building, designed by architect Edwin H. Clark (who also designed Brookfield Zoo and the Winnetka Village Hall), was dedicated on June 7, 1931. It was built as a Library and given as a gift to the City of Lake Forest by Mrs. Charles H. Schweppe and Mrs. Stanley Keith in memory of Mrs. Keith's first husband, Kersey Coates Reed. The building and siting of the Library was overseen by the Library President, Alfred E. Hamill, a wealthy book collector, poet, investment banker and friend of David Adler, who had designed Hamill’s Centaurs estate.

Designed in the Art Deco style popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the Library is located in a National Register Historic District. The building follows a classic symmetrical plan around a central domed rotunda, similar to the 1929 Shedd Aquarium. The building, its landscape, and its art are an excellent example of the Chicago Renaissance, the period from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to the start of World War II.

The rotunda houses the Kersey Coates Reed memorial stone relief of "The Archer" by Oskar J. W. Hansen (1892–1971) and the extraordinary Nicolai Remisoff (1887–1975) murals. The archer's face is a likeness of Mr. Reed. The inscription reads: "In memory of Kersey Coates Reed, eighteen hundred and eighty—nineteen hundred and twenty-nine—who was much loved in Lake Forest—where he lived—and who cared greatly for good books—this building has been erected."  Twelve murals painted by Remisoff line the walls of the rotunda depicting the great authors of antiquity.

The high-ceilinged, wood-paneled rooms on the building’s main level contribute to its warm and inviting atmosphere. The fireplace in the Friends’ Reading Room is lit from November to April.

Since the 1970s, the Lake Forest Library has expanded and renovated in order to keep up with the changing landscape of information in our society and the needs of the community. The library strives to inspire lifelong learning, promoting the free and respectful exchange of ideas, and building community. And, the Lake Forest Library has now been named a 4-Star library by Library Journal six years in a row for its outstanding services and offerings to the community.