Murry & Leonie Guggenheim Memorial Library at Monmouth University
Backstory and Context
Completed in 1905, the building now known as the Monmouth University Guggenheim Memorial Library was once the Summer home of philanthropists Murry and Leonie Guggenheim. The building was designed by the New York firm of M. Carrere and Thomas Hastings, who were awarded the gold medal of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for 1903 for the design. Thomas Hastings and John Melvin Carrere had also designed the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. They were among the foremost American exponents of the Beaux Arts style in architecture.
Murry Guggenheim was the son of a Swiss, Jewish Immigrant who led a life in America as a lace embroiderer. He later sold metals in New York city after becoming involved in smelting and mining. With time he became the chairman of the finance committee at American Smelting and Refining. On a business trip back to Switzerland, Murry met the woman he would eventually marry, Leonie Bernheim. The couple would eventually build their summer estate in New Jersey, where they would reside seasonally with their two children.
After Murry's passing in 1939, Leonie continued to spend her summers at the West Long Branch estate, until she eventually passed in 1959. The property was turned over to the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Foundation. Though it was initially offered to Monmouth Medical Center, people from the surrounding area chimed in to say that they thought the building would better serve the college. Officially given to the university in 1960, a year was spent transforming the mansion into a college library, which was finally dedicated in September of 1961 as the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Memorial Library. The site gained a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
This Beaux-arts mansion draws upon French neoclassicism and renaissance features. The building is primarily white, with limited emerald green features within certain balcony railings and green and white striped window awnings. Out front, the Belvedere of the building provides a shaded outdoor area that allows for viewing the grounds. Visitors will marvel at the grand spiral staircase found upon walking into the building.
Over the years, the library has seen renovations and been paired with a website that allows students to access to library collections any time. This provides electronic resources, catalogs, Inter-library loan access, and more platforms for academic research. The site further provides contact information, library hours, and service information for students to check at any time. On the main page, a link can be found to direct people to event information about what's going on and keep them in the loop, providing opportunity for campus engagement.