The ABC's of an Architectural Library in Pittsburgh:
Anderson, Bernd and Carnegie

By Christopher Monkhouse

In the 1890s three significant architectural libraries came to the fore in the United States in the cities of Boston, New York and Pittsburgh. Each of these architectural libraries published catalogues of their books on architecture and the allied arts during that decade, beginning with the Boston Public Library in 1894, the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University in 1895, and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in 1898. That Pittsburgh found itself in such good bibliographic company at this early date is due entirely to three individuals: Edwin H. Anderson (1861--1947), Julius D. Bernd (1830--1892) and Andrew Carnegie (1835--1919).

When Andrew Carnegie addressed the citizens of Pittsburgh at the dedication ceremony of Carnegie Institute in Oakland on November 5, 1895, he had already given libraries to neighboring communities, beginning with Braddock in 1889, and then Allegheny in 1890. In addition to a library, Oakland's Carnegie Institute housed a museum of natural history, a gallery of fine art and a music hall. In the course of his dedicatory address, Carnegie took great pleasure in pointing out to the assembled guests that his gift of steel and stone had already inspired others to follow his example, with the library, the natural history museum and the gallery of fine art each receiving donations before their doors had opened. Such an auspicious beginning established a healthy precedent, of which Julius Bernd's benefaction of 1892 to the library seemed particularly worthy of notice to Carnegie, who referred to it in his speech:

"Mr. Bernd, honored be his memory, has the distinction of being the first to set us all an example. His name will be first upon the tablet at the entrance which is to record for all time the names of our benefactors. Funds have already been received from his legacy exceeding $20,000 and appropriated for the use of the library."1

Born into modest circumstances in Germany where he was the 12th of 13 children, Bernd and his family emigrated to New York in the early 1830s shortly after his birth. Eventually settling in Philadelphia, Bernd went to work at an early age. Thanks to boundless energy and a good head for business, Bernd was able to establish in Pittsburgh in 1862 his own wholesale and retail firm which specialized in millinery and straw goods and later expanded to include kidskin gloves. Thirty years later he had amassed an estate worth approximately $100,000, which upon his death in 1892 was liberally distributed to relatives, friends and employees, along with special legacies to 22 charitable and six educational institutions: "Protestant, Jewish, Catholic and non-sectarian,-for black and white,-for the aged and orphans,-for the sick and the homeless,- for schools, scientific, artistic and technical; without regard to race, sex, sect or nationality."2

Of all Bernd's bequests, that which derived from the residue of his estate reflected his strongest sympathy and interests. Divided in equal shares, half went to the Hebrew University College of Cincinnati for the support of indigent students of Bernd's faith, while the other half went to the City of Pittsburgh for the purchase of books to be placed in the Carnegie Library. Bernd's one stipulation regarding the latter disbursement was that it be used solely for the acquisition of books in a single category or department. As Bernd had never expressed a preference for a particular area of literature, that decision fell to the trustees of the Carnegie Library, and its librarian, Edwin Anderson.

After training in the only library school in the United States, the New York State Library School in Albany, and a brief stint as a cataloguer at the recently established Newberry Library in Chicago, Anderson came to Pittsburgh in 1892, initially as the librarian of the Carnegie Free Library in Braddock, and then in 1895 as the first librarian of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland. Committed to the ideas and ideals of community service, Anderson quickly determined that the Bernd bequest, if channeled into the fine arts, could over time contribute to the beautification of the city in which the donor lived. In order to leave the principal intact by using only the income, a "live" collection would be assured as a perpetual memorial to Bernd. However, as that consisted of about $1,000 per year, such a sum could more adequately support a small division, rather than a large class, and hence architecture and decoration became the focus of the Bernd fund, rather than fine arts as a whole.

In order to ensure an informed audience for the Bernd collection of architecture, Anderson made it possible for the first organizational meeting of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club (briefly called at the outset "The Pittsburgh Architects' Club") to take place within the walls of the Carnegie Library on December 9, 1896.3 By 1899 Anderson had followed up that initiative by helping the club secure "permanent and commodious rooms in the Carnegie Institute," as well as exhibition galleries for surveys of contemporary architecture, which started as early as 1898.4 In order to make the local architects' link with the Bernd collection complete, Anderson from the beginning encouraged them to suggest books for purchase, and that was still the policy in 1925.

In May of 1925, The Charette, A Little Journal of Rejuvenation Published Every Month by the Pittsburgh Architectural Club, included an article by K. Salome Stamm of the Carnegie Library titled "Architectural Books in the Carnegie Library, The Bernd Collection." Stamm's concluding paragraph ended with the following request: "Any suggestions for purchases, have always been very welcome, and the library considers these suggestions from local architects a great advantage. We are glad to know what is useful and in demand."5

To increase the audience for every class of literature included in the Carnegie Library, Anderson initiated the idea of issuing annotated book lists, which were sold widely. In this way the first catalogue of the Bernd collection came to be published in Pittsburgh in 1898. A slim volume of 33 densely printed pages, it included a short history of the bequest and the benefactor. Many of the extensively annotated entries which followed were provided by the architect and architectural bibliophile, Russell Sturgis, who was well qualified for this task after playing a significant role in the formation of the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University starting in 1890.

The catalogue for the Avery Architectural Library appeared in print in 1895, and it served as an invaluable reference tool for Anderson in the formation of the Bernd collection begun that very same year, as did the catalogue for the collection of architectural books in the Boston Public Library, published in 1894. Of additional assistance to Anderson was a paper delivered to The Society of Architects in England on December 4, 1894, by Herbert Batsford, entitled Reference Books on Architecture and Decoration with Hints on the Formation of an Architectural Library. Printed in 1895 for private circulation by the London bookseller and publisher B.T. Batsford, the author encouraged those about to begin such a collection to concentrate on recent works, as older volumes were hard to come by and, to his mind, of limited utility in proportion to their cost. Anderson took Batsford's advice to heart, as evidenced by the titles in the 1898 catalogue of the Bernd collection. Out of the 300 titles listed, all but one date from the 19th century, and with the vast majority published after 1850. The one exception was a copy of Architecture Libri Decem by Vitruvius Pollio published in Amsterdam in 1649. Today the Bernd collection contains 232 titles that predate 1850, and the vast majority have been purchased with funds generated by the Bernd bequest. Some of the greatest rarities, however, have been added to the Bernd collection either by gift or purchase from other sources.

The earliest book in the Bernd collection is Philibert de L'Orme's Nouvelles Inventions, published in Paris in 1578. Acquired in 1926, it was formerly in the Burnham Library of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago. That great collection of architectural books and drawings, incidentally, was established in 1912 with a generous bequest from Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, whose name it bears. Over the years the Burnham Library has had occasion to sell duplicates, and this would explain how Pittsburgh came to acquire its earliest architectural book from such a distinguished collection.

Of the several 17th-century volumes in the Bernd collection, Wendel Dietterlin's Architectura, published in Nuremberg in 1655, is one of the most striking. With approximately 200 plates of Dietterlin's designs in the strapwork grotesque style for windows, chimneypieces, doors, fountains and monuments, this volume served as a source of inspiration not only for designers in the 17th century, but the 19th as well. This particular volume bears the bookplate of John Gregory Crace (1809--1889) who headed up one of England's foremost decorating firms during the middle years of the 19th century. In addition to working with A.W.N. Pugin on the decorations in the New Palace of Westminster starting in 1843, Crace also actively participated in the London 1851 and 1862 Exhibitions, not to mention the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857. Furthermore, the decorating scheme provided by his son, John Diblee Crace (1838--1917) for the Elizabethan interiors at Longleat in Wiltshire could well have been informed, if not inspired, by plates in this very volume.

Of books dating from the 18th century, the Bernd collection is rich in folio volumes produced more for the benefit of gentlemen amateurs than architects and builders. Included among these "coffee-table books" for the Age of Enlightenment are Robert Adam's Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia, published in London in 1764, as well as his greatest rival, Sir William Chambers', Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Perspective Views of the Gardens and Buildings at Kew, in Surrey, published in London in 1763. Both of these volumes were featured in The Age of Adam exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in 1992 in honor of the 200th anniversary of the death of Robert Adam. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, a close associate of Adam and Chambers, is also well represented in the Bernd collection, and selections from his Works (1748--1807) have been shown on a rotating basis in the the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Perhaps the greatest rarity to be found among the 18th-century books in the Bernd collection is a gift from the Lehman family of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. It is a nearly pristine copy of the first architectural design book ever published in America, Abraham Swan's British Architect, printed by Robert Bell for John Norman in Philadelphia in 1775. Because this edition was a faithful copy of an English pattern book first published in London in 1745, it would not be until 1797 that the first truly American builder's guide, The Country Builder's Assistant, would be published by Asher Benjamin in Greenfield, Massachusetts. And even that book was deeply indebted to English publications, and in particular William Pain's The Practical House Carpenter (1788).

While the Bernd collection does not as yet include Benjamin's Country Builder's Assistant, it does contain a copy of Pain's The Practical House Carpenter, as well as his The Practical Builder, both of which did much to disseminate the Adam style throughout the English-speaking world. For graphic evidence of their extended influence, the Bernd copy of The Practical Builder bears the inscription of a carpenter and housewright first living in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1804, and then in Tobago, West Indies, in 1805.

Beginning in the 19th century, there was a growing response to the picturesque movement in both architecture and landscape gardening, and a spate of pattern books illustrating relatively modest rural residences appeared on the publishing scene. One of the most prolific authors was Thomas D.W. Dearn, who is represented in the Bernd collection by two titles: Sketches in Architecture; Consisting of Original Designs for Cottages and Rural Dwellings, Suitable to Persons of Moderate Fortune, and for Convenient Retirement (London, 1807); bound together with Designs for Lodges and Entrances to Parks, Paddocks, and Pleasure Grounds, in the Gothic, Cottage, and Fancy Styles (London, 1811). What makes these volumes of particular relevance to the history of architecture in western Pennsylvania is that one of them is inscribed by their owner, Harmar Denny (1794--1852).

Along with a distinguished career as a lawyer in Pittsburgh and as a congressman in Washington (1829--1837), Denny made significant contributions to agriculture. At his model farm near Lawrenceville, Denny imported new breeds of livestock and introduced improved farming implements. Therefore the presence of Dearn's pattern books in his library would seem to suggest that Denny's desire for rural improvements embraced the architecture of farm buildings as well.

Today, the rising costs of contemporary architecture books, and the proliferation of new titles since World War II, have meant ever-shrinking resources with which to purchase books published before 1850 for the Bernd collection. The problem has been compounded by the fact that antiquarian books in the fields of architecture and design are now more actively collected by individuals and institutions than ever before. The Dearn volumes were accessioned in 1948 and were among the last to join the earlier books in the Bernd collection.

While The Heinz Architectural Center has the acquisition of architectural drawings and models as its primary mission, efforts will be made whenever possible to add architectural books to the collection. The Bernd collection is still housed in The Carnegie Library, with the pre-1850 volumes kept in the William Reed Oliver Special Collections Room (open by appointment). For example, one of the first gifts to the Center was a copy of Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine's Recueil de décorations intérieures (Paris, 1812), which complements Palais, maisons, et autres édifices modernes, dessinés à Rome (Paris 1798), already in the Bernd collection. What makes this copy of Percier and Fontaine's Recueil particularly significant for the entire Carnegie Institute is that it was acquired in London in 1893 by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow while he was actively collecting source material with which to enhance his designs for the original Institute building. In her recently published account of the architectural evolution of the Carnegie Institute, Margaret Henderson Floyd traced the designs of the plasterwork and gold leaf ornament of the Music Hall interior back to the delicately detailed plates which had originally inspired Longfellow.6

Even if earlier architectural books are no longer being added to the Bernd collection, it deserves to be much better known. The Bernd collection contains several of the most significant volumes ever published in the field of architecture, a number of which are further enhanced by their provenance. In addition, the Bernd collection keeps alive the memory of an enlightened local citizen whose bequest in the 1890s forever links Pittsburgh with the development during that decade in Boston and New York of two of the greatest architectural libraries ever assembled. The Heinz Architectural Center celebrates this legacy by highlighting selections from the Bernd collection on an ongoing basis. In addition, the Music and Art Department has published and made available to the public a short title list of all the architectural and design books published before 1850. Edwin Anderson, Julius Bernd and Andrew Carnegie would be pleased by the significance of the Bernd collection one century after it was created.

Christopher Monkhouse, founding curator of The Heinz Architectural Center of the Carnegie Museum of Art, is now The Bell Memorial Curator, Department of Decorative Arts, Sculpture and Architecture, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


1.Publication of Dedication Ceremony, November 5, 1985, p. 21. Perhaps owing to the excitement of the occasion, Andrew Carnegie slightly exaggerated the amount of the legacy, which was closer to $19,000.

2.Julius Stern, "Julius D. Bernd. A Short Biographical Sketch Prepared by his Nephew," in Catalogue of the J.D. Bernd Department of Architecture in The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, 1898, p.10.

3.Notices of the founding of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club at Carnegie Institute appeared in: Architecture and Building News (December 19, 1896), pp. 299--300; and The American Architect and Building News (December 26, 1896), p. 111.

4."Club Notes," The Brochure Series, (April 1899), p. 9. For an account of the 1898 exhibitions, see The American Architect and Building News (March 5, 1898), p. 74.

5.K. Salome Stamm, "Architectural Books in The Carnegie Library, The Bernd Collection," The Charette (May 1925), p. 3.

6.Margaret Henderson Floyd, "Longfellow, Alden & Harlow's First Carnegie Library and Institute (1891--1895)," Carnegie Magazine, (January/February, 1993), p. 30.