Truly Grand Home Libraries

I have categorized any home library that is jaw-droppingly large in size or holdings or exceptionally ornate as a "truly grand home library." This is the type of library that usually graces the mansions built by captains of industry and other very wealthy people. However, serious book collectors of more modest wealth occasionally make such a library their highest priority, and even though architecturally, their libraries are not as impressive as those in great mansions, the number of books in them often qualifies them for inclusion as Grand, in my opinion. These libraries often contain ten thousand books or more.

These are photos for dreaming, for admiration, for envy. And for ogling, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"-like. Enjoy!



"Enter the regal, two-story, 22 x 36-foot library in this 1920 New York home and you may think you just walked into an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The room was taken, part by part, from the Cunard Line luxury ocean liner RMS Mauritania, sister ship to the Lusitania, and assembled in this former home of a prestigious area lawyer. The library features graceful, polished tiger maple with curved corners, clerestory windows, lead frame doors, marble fireplace, and the original retractable chandelier at center." It has a balcony on three sides.

This eight-bedroom house, named "Still House" (in Locust Valley, NY) was built in 1928 as the Gold Coast country house of Paul D. Cravath, senior partner of a well-known Manhattan law firm. It was designed by Bradley Delehanty and was listed for $22.5 million in 2006 (dropped to $17 million in 2007).


Wired Magazine

Built by Jay Walker, internet entrepreneur, this incredible 3,600 square-foot library on 3 levels in Walker's home in New England is not just a "library," a room filled with books. Oh, it has books all right – thousands of them, including rare, older books, incunabulae and incredibly ornate, jewel-encrusted tomes. But this "engagement space" also includes numerous artifacts of historical significance – a Sputnik, the napkin on which FDR in 1943 outlined his plan to win WWII – as well as just plain cool items like a chandelier from a James Bond movie and the original "Thing" hand from "The Addams Family."



This fabulous two-story library is part of a 17,000 square foot luxury penthouse apartment in Monaco named "Le Belle Epoque." It sold for over $300 million, probably to an Arab sheik. The library is truly grand, from the twenty-foot-high coffered plaster ceiling to the wood-paneled wraparound balcony and giant marble fireplace. Oh, and did I mention it's a library and has book shelves – enough to store thousands of books?



This library belongs to the prolific reader and writer, Alberto Manguel (who has written "The Library at Night" and other works about libraries). His library, housed in a fifteenth-century French stone barn, houses more than 30,000 books. It is not an overwhelmingly grand library with ornate marble or expensive rare hardwood shelves, but is rather the book-centered library of a man obsessed with books. In other words, a place most who are looking at this site would like to spend time in.



The Hearst Castle Gothic Study and Library (last photo). The Hearst Mansion in Beverly Hills is worth $165 million and is famous for having been used in the movie, The Godfather. As befitting such an edifice, the Castle has two incredibly grand book-filled spaces: a Gothic-style, barrel-vaulted stone hall where Hearst met with his advisors and which contains some of his finest metalwork and statuary; and the Library, a beautifully wood-paneled, coffered-ceilinged space containing more than 4,000 books and a collection of Greek pottery. Wow.


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