Grand Private Libraries: The Harlan Crow Estate

Unattributed Image via Pinterest.
Unattributed Image via Pinterest.

Highland Park in Dallas has long been recognized as the home place of fabulously wealthy Texans. The Harlan Crow Estate on Preston Road, however, features an amazing library wing filled with a collection that would be the envy of many small college libraries.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest
Unattributed Image via Pinterest

 

The library wing, added to the original home in 2002, includes floor-to-ceiling bookcases of gleaming dark cabinetry on two spacious levels. Sumptuous oriental rugs soften the floors, and add to the hushed, contemplative ambiance.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest
Unattributed Image via Pinterest

This  setting is ideal for loosing oneself in the fascinating documents housed in protective cases. Some of the documents’ signatures read Ponce de Leon, George Washington, Robert E. Lee and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest

Unattributed Image via Pinterest

With a collection of more than 10,000 books and more than 5,000 manuscripts, Crow’s is said to be one of the most significant collections in the nation outside of the Library of Congress. Highlights include a 1493 pamphlet based on Christopher Columbus’ hand-written letter to King Ferdinand. The library also has one of four known copies of Amerigo Vespucci’s Mundus Novus, which contains the first published use of the phrase “New World,” and William Pierce’s hand-written notes from the Constitutional Convention in 1787 .

Other notable books and manuscripts include doodles by Abraham Lincoln; Frederick Douglass’ bible; Napoleon’s writing desk, and Duke of Wellington’s sword from 1815.

On an antique table is a signed copy of Churchill’s book on fly fishing.

Image Courtesy of the Society of the History of Discoveries
Image Courtesy of the Society of the History of Discoveries

Like other libraries though, the Harlan Crow Estate has been the center of considerable controversy. While the interior of the library houses great works of art and literature, the library grounds showcases what many believe to be a statuary rogues’ gallery of political figures representative of more than a century of politics, upheaval, and repressive regimes.

File/The New York Times via Dallas Morning News

File/The New York Times via Dallas Morning News

 

Still, Harlan Crow has said he hopes to open his library to the public one day. He further hopes it will be used for both scholarly and schoolboy research.

Although I have never been able to fit the definition of a “schoolboy,” I hope to visit the library.

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4 thoughts on “Grand Private Libraries: The Harlan Crow Estate

    1. Gail A. Sisolak

      He seems to be pretty passionate about his collection, so I would imagine he’s read quite a few. I’ll try to email him and see if I can get a response.

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