The George Peabody Library
17 E Mt Vernon Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
As a passionate lover of Baltimore and its rich history, I have always been captivated by the stories and charm that abound in this vibrant city. My fascination with books, those tangible vessels of knowledge and imagination, has led me on countless literary journeys. This has deepened my appreciation for the written word.
It is with great delight that I discovered the George Peabody Library—a dream come true, where the enchanting beauty of Baltimore's history and the allure of literature intertwine, creating a breathtaking sanctuary that celebrates the power of knowledge and the timeless elegance of the written word.
And when I found out you could get married there? My wedding photographer's heart exploded.
The George Peabody Library, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is an iconic and historic library that serves as part of the Johns Hopkins University's Sheridan Libraries. George Peabody, an American financier, and philanthropist founded the library to serve Baltimore's citizens by acquiring and disseminating knowledge.
The library's history began in 1857 when George Peabody announced his intention to donate $300,000 for the establishment of a library and an affiliated cultural institution in Baltimore. Construction of the library began in 1858, with the building designed by architect Edmund G. Lind. However, due to the Civil War, the library's construction was delayed, and it ultimately opened its doors to the public on October 25, 1866.
The George Peabody Library was initially conceived as a separate institution from the Peabody Institute, which focused on music and the arts. The library houses a comprehensive collection of books, maps, and manuscripts, covering various subjects such as religion, science, history, and literature. The library's mission was to provide free access to knowledge and learning resources to the people of Baltimore, irrespective of their social status or financial means.
Over the years, the library's collection expanded significantly. By the end of the 19th century, it had become one of the most extensive research libraries in the United States. The library continued to operate as an independent institution until 1982 when it was integrated into the Johns Hopkins University system. In 2002, it was formally incorporated into the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University. This library now manages and maintains the library's collection.
The George Peabody Library is renowned for its stunning architecture, often referred to as a "cathedral of books." The library's main reading room features a breathtaking, six-story atrium, adorned with ornate cast-iron balconies and a skylight that floods the space with natural light. The library's striking design and historical significance make it a popular venue for events, such as weddings, conferences, and other cultural gatherings.
Today, the George Peabody Library continues to serve as a vital research center for the Johns Hopkins University community and the public, offering access to its vast collection and hosting various exhibitions, lectures, and events that promote learning and intellectual exchange. The library stands as a testament to George Peabody's vision and generosity, as well as the enduring importance of knowledge and education.
The George Peabody Library, with its breathtaking architecture and historic charm, has become a popular and sought-after venue for weddings in Baltimore. Couples who choose to host their wedding at this iconic location can expect a truly unforgettable experience. This is surrounded by centuries of knowledge and the stunning beauty of the library's interior.
Ceremonies at the George Peabody Library typically take place in the main atrium. This features a six-story, cast-iron balcony stack and a magnificent skylight ceiling. The soaring height of the atrium, combined with the natural light filtering through the skylight, creates an enchanting and ethereal atmosphere for exchanging vows. The intricate ironwork of the balconies, along with the thousands of books lining the shelves, provide an elegant and romantic backdrop for the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, guests can enjoy cocktail hour in the Exhibit Gallery, adjacent to the main atrium. This space offers an intimate setting for guests to mingle and admire the library's rare books and artifacts. The Exhibit Gallery can also serve as a location for pre-ceremony gatherings or post-ceremony refreshments, depending on the couple's preferences and event timeline.
The reception typically takes place back in the main atrium, where the space is transformed to accommodate dining and dancing. Long tables or round tables can be arranged among the book stacks, creating an elegant dining experience. The high ceilings and grand architecture of the library provide ample opportunity for creative event design, such as hanging floral arrangements or chandeliers, which can further enhance the ambiance of the space.
The library's preferred catering partners offer a wide range of menu options, ensuring couples can tailor their dining experience to their tastes and preferences. Additionally, the library's experienced event staff can help coordinate other wedding-related details, such as selecting vendors for photography, floral design, and entertainment.
The George Peabody Library is equipped with modern amenities, such as air conditioning and a state-of-the-art sound system, to ensure the comfort of guests and the success of the event. The library also offers a dedicated bridal suite for the wedding party to prepare and relax before the ceremony.
With so many options to choose from it's nearly impossible to make a list of my favorite places at the Library, but here is a short list of five spots I especially love:
Main Atrium: The main atrium is located at the heart of the George Peabody Library. This grand, central space features six levels of cast-iron balconies adorned with intricate designs, connected by elegant spiral staircases. The expansive skylight ceiling allows natural light to pour into the room, illuminating the thousands of books lining the shelves. The atrium's tall columns and black-and-white marble floor create grandeur and sophistication.
Exhibit Gallery: Adjacent to the main atrium, the Exhibit Gallery serves as a more intimate space within the library. This area showcases rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts from the library's collection. The room is characterized by its warm wood-paneled walls, glass display cases, and ambient lighting, creating a cozy atmosphere for visitors to explore and admire the exhibits.
Entrance Hall: Upon entering the George Peabody Library, visitors are greeted by the entrance hall, which features a stunning black-and-white marble floor in a checkerboard pattern. The high ceiling is supported by elegant columns, and the walls are adorned with beautiful artwork and decorative moldings. This welcoming space sets the tone for the library's breathtaking interior.
North and South Alcoves: Flanking the main atrium are the north and south alcoves, which provide quieter and more secluded areas for study and contemplation. These alcoves are characterized by their tall, narrow windows, which allow soft natural light to filter into the space. The walls are lined with bookshelves containing an array of volumes. Comfortable seating is scattered throughout, inviting visitors to sit and immerse themselves in their chosen books.
Spiral Staircases: Connecting the various levels of the main atrium, the spiral staircases are both functional and visually stunning. These cast-iron staircases gracefully curve upwards through the atrium, allowing visitors to access the higher balconies and explore the library's extensive collection. The staircases also provide unique vantage points to enjoy the full splendor of the main atrium and its architectural beauty.
All of these spaces are gorgeous...but let me talk more about my favorite spot.
The spiral staircases at the George Peabody Library are remarkable architectural features that serve a functional purpose but also add to the overall beauty and character of the building. These elegant staircases are crafted from cast iron, a material that was popular during the time of the library's construction in the mid-19th century. Their intricate design and craftsmanship showcase that period's attention to detail and skilled artistry.
(They are also gorgeous for portraits).
The staircases gracefully curve upwards, connecting the various levels of the main atrium. They also provide access to the higher balconies that house the library's extensive collection. There are several spiral staircases within the library. This ensures that visitors can easily navigate between floors while also maintaining the open and airy feel of the atrium.
(Seriously, they are like crazy gorgeous for portraits).
The spiral staircase design includes ornate balustrades and decorative elements that accentuate their elegance. The steps themselves are made of cast iron and are finished with a smooth surface to ensure the comfort and safety of those who use them. The staircases are also adorned with subtle yet intricate detailing, such as floral motifs and patterns, which further enhance their visual appeal.
(All I want to do, for real, is take wedding photos on these stairs).
As visitors ascend the spiral staircase, they are offered unique vantage points to appreciate the grandeur of the main atrium. In addition, they can appreciate the stunning cast-iron balconies and the magnificent skylight ceiling. The staircases not only provide a means to explore the library's vast collection but also serve as an integral part of the building's aesthetic. They embody the elegance and sophistication that define the George Peabody Library.
(tl;dr I love the stairs always and forever).
While the George Peabody Library offers a stunning and unique backdrop for wedding photos, there may be a few reasons why a couple might choose to venture outside the library for additional photos. One such reason could be to diversify the settings and capture a variety of scenes. This will enable you to create a well-rounded photo album that reflects different aspects of their special day.
Another reason might be to include significant or sentimental locations in the couple's relationship, such as the place where they first met, the proposal location, or a favorite spot that holds special memories for them. Incorporating these personal elements can make their wedding photos even more meaningful and unique.
Additionally, the city of Baltimore itself offers a wealth of picturesque and historic sites that can serve as beautiful backdrops for wedding photos. Couples might want to showcase their love for the city and its rich history by featuring iconic locations like the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill Park, or Fells Point in their photos. Outdoor settings can also provide a natural contrast to the indoor elegance of the library, offering a range of lighting and environmental conditions that can enhance the visual appeal of the images.
Lastly, leaving the library for some wedding photos may provide the couple (with or without their wedding party) with a welcome opportunity to relax and enjoy some time away from the main event. Exploring the city and its surroundings can serve as a brief respite from the excitement and stress of the day, allowing everyone to unwind!
Some of my favorite nearby locations for photos include:
Washington Monument and Mount Vernon Place Address: 699 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Distance: 0.2 miles, 4-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Washington Monument, situated in Mount Vernon Place, is a beautiful and historically significant landmark in Baltimore. The monument is dedicated to George Washington and stands 178 feet tall. Visitors can climb the 227 steps to the top of the monument, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The surrounding Mount Vernon Place is a picturesque park with green lawns, fountains, and beautiful landscaping, making it a perfect spot to unwind and appreciate the monument's grandeur.
The Walters Art Museum Address: 600 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Distance: 0.1 miles, 2-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Walters Art Museum is a world-renowned museum that features an extensive collection of art spanning from ancient times to the 20th century. The museum is housed in a beautiful, historic building with stunning architecture, both inside and out. The surrounding area is characterized by well-manicured gardens, providing an oasis of tranquility amid the bustling city. Visitors can enjoy free admission to the museum, making it an accessible cultural experience for everyone.
Maryland Historical Society Address: 201 W Monument St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Distance: 0.4 miles, 9-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Maryland Historical Society is a fascinating destination for those interested in learning more about the history of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, paintings, and documents that chronicle the state's rich history. The elegant brick building, with its white columns and classical architecture, is a striking feature of the surrounding streetscape. The Historical Society also offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits, providing a valuable learning experience for visitors.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Address: 409 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Distance: 0.2 miles, 4-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Baltimore Basilica, is an architectural masterpiece and a significant religious site. Designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, this neoclassical church is considered one of the finest examples of 19th-century architecture in the United States. Visitors can admire the Basilica's elegant exterior, featuring grand columns and intricate stonework, while the serene interior is adorned with beautiful artwork and stained-glass windows.
Preston Gardens Address: 500 St Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21202 Distance: 0.4 miles, 8-minute walk from the Peabody Library
Preston Gardens is a lovely urban park located in downtown Baltimore. This charming green space offers a peaceful retreat from the city's hustle and bustle, with well-manicured lawns, flower beds, and benches for relaxation. The park also features a beautiful central fountain and several sculptures, creating a visually appealing environment. Preston Gardens is an ideal location for those seeking a quiet spot to enjoy nature amid the city's vibrant streets.
Center Stage Address: 700 N Calvert St, Baltimore, MD 21202 Distance: 0.3 miles, 7-minute walk from the Peabody Library
Center Stage is a renowned theater in Baltimore, known for hosting an array of high-quality performances, including plays, musicals, and other live events. The building's modern facade, featuring a combination of glass and steel elements, is a striking contrast to the historic architecture found in the surrounding area. The theater's interior is equally impressive, with comfortable seating and excellent acoustics, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all attendees. Center Stage has a strong commitment to producing innovative and engaging theater, making it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts.
The George Peabody Statue Address: 1 E Mount Vernon Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 Distance: 0.1 miles, 2-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The George Peabody Statue is a tribute to the library's namesake, George Peabody, an American financier and philanthropist. The statue, made of bronze, depicts Peabody sitting on a chair and holding a book, symbolizing his dedication to education and the arts. The monument is situated in a small, well-kept park with lush greenery and benches, offering a quiet space for contemplation and appreciation of Peabody's contributions to the city of Baltimore.
Enoch Pratt Free Library - Central Library Address: 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Distance: 0.2 miles, 4-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Enoch Pratt Free Library - Central Library is another historic library in Baltimore, serving as the main branch of the city's public library system. The building features a stately exterior with large windows and impressive columns. Inside, the library offers a vast collection of books, periodicals, and other resources, as well as quiet reading areas and study spaces. The Enoch Pratt Free Library is a testament to Baltimore's dedication to providing accessible educational and cultural resources to its residents.
The Belvedere Address: 1 E Chase St, Baltimore, MD 21202 Distance: 0.5 miles, 10-minute walk from the Peabody Library
The Belvedere is a historic building in Baltimore, originally built as a hotel in 1903 and now serving as a multi-purpose venue for events, dining, and office spaces. The building's Beaux-Arts architecture is characterized by its elegant facade, ornate detailing, and grand entryway. Inside, visitors will find a luxurious marble lobby with a striking central staircase, soaring ceilings, and opulent chandeliers. The Belvedere's long history and stunning architecture make it a noteworthy landmark in Baltimore.
As a seasoned wedding photographer with extensive experience in capturing special moments at the Peabody Library, I pride myself on my ability to make the most of this unique and enchanting venue. One of the key aspects of creating memorable images in a location such as the Peabody Library is understanding and mastering the use of light, both natural and artificial.
The Peabody Library, with its grand architecture, offers an abundance of natural light that can create a truly magical atmosphere. My familiarity with the library's layout allows me to anticipate how the light will change throughout the day, ensuring that I am always ready to capture the perfect shot, no matter the time or the angle.
In addition to utilizing the natural light, I am highly skilled in creating artificial light that complements the library's unique ambiance. With an understanding of how the library's architecture and design can influence the lighting, I can artfully manipulate artificial light sources to produce the desired effect, whether that's adding warmth, enhancing depth, or creating dramatic shadows. My expertise in this area ensures that I can adapt to any situation, providing consistently beautiful and well-lit images, even when the natural light is less than ideal.
Another essential aspect of photographing a Peabody Library wedding is understanding the nuances of the space and how to work with its architectural features. I pride myself on my ability to showcase the library's grandeur while also creating intimate, personal images that tell the story of the couple's love.
In summary, my expertise in lighting, combined with my deep understanding of the Peabody Library's unique features, makes me the ideal choice for capturing your wedding day in this remarkable venue. With my skills and experience, I will create a collection of stunning images that will forever remind you of the magic and beauty of your wedding day at the Peabody Library.