History and Architecture of the Falls Library
by Ellen Prantl
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Falls of Schuylkill Library
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 Click here to see a YouTube video of the presentation
If you have ever wondered about the imposing Gothic Tudor stone structure with its iconic cupola and catfish weathervane gracing the corner of Midvale Ave and Warden Drive, view this video.
The building in question is the 108 year old Falls of Schuylkill Library, a vibrant and important educational, social, and cultural center in East Falls. Distinguished architect and East Falls resident Ellen Prantl talked of the Library, its history as an original Carnegie Library, its architectural design and construction.
Ms. Prantl’s illustrated talk focuses on the Carnegie library program, the requirements for a neighborhood to be selected as a site, the hiring of librarians under the program and the distinctive architecture of the building.
A resident of East Falls since 1985, Ms. Prantl is an architect with Jacobs, an international architectural/engineering firm with offices in center city. She specializes in institutional architecture with a focus on medical and research facilities. Ms. Prantl has also been an adjunct professor at Temple University, Moore College of Art and at Jefferson University.
The Friends have four major fundraising events, the Fall Book Sales, the Spring Plant Sale, December Holiday Green Sale and the biannual Winter Interlude.
- The Fall Book Sale has thousands of hardbacks, paperbacks, CD, DVDs, and audio books at very reasonable prices. Especially popular are the children’s book and games section and the rare or vintage tables. There’s a members-only preview the day before.
- The Spring Plant Sale. Get your garden off to a great start for the season with a selection of herbs, perennials and annuals for sun or shade suitable for in ground planting and containers. Library volunteer gardeners will be on-hand to assist you in your shopping, and to answer your gardening questions.
- Holiday Greens Sale, held in early December in cooperation with Vault + Vine on Midvale Avenue. The Sale is the first two Saturdays and Sundays following Thanksgiving and the combo of selling trees and V&V’s holiday bazaar makes the event a great spot to see friends and support two great organizations. The Friends choose only Fraser firs for their lasting beauty and fine architecture.
- Every other year, the Friends hold a social gathering for all of East Falls in mid-February at the Library called The Winter Interlude. The Library great room is transformed into an evening winter wonderland of blue and white. With special permission, we host a wine bar, a sumptuous dessert buffet and a silent auction-all donation-from gift certificates to local businesses to hand made gifts. Tickets are sold in advance or at the door. It’s a great way to get involved.
Free to all, the East Falls Performers, modestly referred to as a Wendy Moody/Caroline Davidson Production, is a night of sheer delight featuring a broad range of local musical talent and sponsored by the Friends. Every year the competition gets tighter and the open spots smaller. This fall event is a must for understanding why we say, “our Library is the heart of East Falls.”
Having fun at the Winter Interlude – Photo by Brian Mudri