History Wall Info #3

Architect Henry Bacon

Henry Bacon with the firm of Brite & Bacon of New York City, designed the Scranton Library. He was a prominent New York architect originally associated with McKim, Mead & White early in his career. He submitted plans in the open competition for the main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street but was not chosen (1897).

One of the many questions is how an architect from Boston and New York was commissioned to design a library in Madison. One connection between the Scranton family and the Bacon family was through Scranton, Pennsylvania. Erastus Scranton invested in the venture in Pennsylvania with his cousins George Whitfield Scranton (1811-1861) and Selden T. Scranton (1814-1891) (sons of Theophilus and Elizabeth Warner) and brother Joseph Hand Scranton’s (1813-1872). They settled in Slocum Hollow investing in iron ore businesses, later founding the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, and then the railroad. George W. Scranton organized the First Presbyterian Church and the Y.M.C.A. and was elected to Congress. He also expanded into steel and railroads, founding the Lackawanna Steel Company and the Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Selden T. Scranton organized the First National Bank and the Y.M.C.A. Joseph H. Scranton had worked with Erastus in Augusta, Georgia. Together, they had a great influence on the area which was renamed Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Henry Bacon and his mother lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles from Scranton. Numerous newspaper accounts place him in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area before and after the Scranton Library was built. The families were likely social friends.

This is a drawing of another submission of Bacon’s for the Lincoln Memorial (from the National Archives).

Library Planning, Bookstacks and Shelving: With Contributions from the Architects’ and Librarians’ Points of View, (Jersey City, New Jersey: The Snead & Company Iron Works, Inc., 1915): 149.

Platt, J.C. “Reminiscences of The Early History Of Dark Hollow, Slocum Hollow, Harrison Lackawanna Iron Works, Scrantonia And Scranton, Pa.”. Scranton Public Library, Scranton Public Library – Out of the Wilderness: The Industrialization and Development of the Scranton Area 1850-1865, 1889.