The mural above the staircase depicts a Houston Lyceum Committee, a precursor to the public library system, subscription drive in 1854. Originally, only men wealthy enough to afford to pay for a subscription to a philosophical club were able to have access to books and other reading materials in Houston. It wasn’t until 1887 that women were allowed to become members. Recognizing the need for all people to have access to books and knowledge, the Woman’s Club of Houston petitioned Andrew Carnegie for funds to build a public library in 1899. Carnegie agreed to give $50,000 for a library building if the City of Houston would agree to support and maintain it in the future.
The mural itself was painted by Ruth Uhler in 1935 and is a part of the library’s collection of depression-era art. As you look closely at the mural, you will notice the window depicted is a real window in the wall; Ms. Uhler painted on the curtains to include it as a natural part of the mural. Ms. Uhler taught at the Museum of Fine Arts and served as its first Curator of Education.