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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Ryerson Portrait

Ryerson Portrait

GRHC - June 14th, 2013

Martin Antoine Ryerson's roots go back to the beginning of the city, and the Ryerson Library, now the Grand Rapids Public Library, was his gift to the people of his native city.


As marble stairs rise from the lobby of the Public Library to the landing between the first and second floor, a portrait of Martin A. Ryerson comes into view. When it was unveiled on March 14, 1930, the building was still known as the Ryerson Library.

The bronze, life-size portrait depicts Ryerson seated at a table with books, and papers in his hand. At the top of the bronze is his name, “Martin Antoine Ryerson,” and below in the upper left hand corner, “Donor of this building to the people of his native city MCMIV,” the dedication date of the library.

The bas-relief faces the large center window at the front of the building, where originally there was a fountain. The design for the setting of the portrait was by Grand Rapids architects, Robinson and Campau; Mr. Campau was a cousin of Mr. Ryerson.

The marble work was put in place by Carl Fleischmann of the city, who visited a number of yards around the country to find the right marble to match that of the building. The sculptor was J. Maxwell Miller of Baltimore. Mr. Ryerson had one condition regarding the portrait, that there should be no public ceremony connected with the unveiling.

As many know, Ryerson’s roots go back to the beginning of the city. His mother was the daughter of Antoine Campau, brother of Louis Campau, founder of Grand Rapids.


Full Details

TitleRyerson Portrait
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; history; Public Library; Martin A. Ryerson
Pubdate StringJune 14th, 2013
Locationlocation on map

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