Bates Hall – Boston Public Library


The McKim building of the Central Library in Copley Square was built between 1888 and 1895 by the architect Charles Follen McKim for whom it is named after.¬†The Central Library’s main reading room, Bates Hall, was named after Joshua Bates, the institution’s first major sponsor. Bates, who grew up without access to a public library,¬†saw the value of an¬†institution and offered to¬†pay for the books needed to stock the library before¬†it opened in 1852.¬† His requirements for the gift were that the new library be “an ornament to the City,” accommodate at least 150 people, and be “free to everybody.”

Bates Hall is a massive room that spans the full length of the McKim building parallel to Dartmouth Street. There is an impressive, 50-foot-high barrel vault fielding and also beautiful English oak bookcases and tables. Bates Hall is a popular study spot for students and city residents.

Looking for more great spots to explore in Boston? Check out these 18 Unique Spots In Boston To Explore This Year!


Historic Specs

  • Opened: 1895
  • Original function: Boston Public Library
  • Architect(s): Charles Follen McKim & Phillip Johnson
  • Year added to NRHP: 1973
  • NRHP number: 73000317
  • Status: Public
  • Admission cost: Free


  • Address: 700 Boylston St
  • Town: Boston
  • State: Massachusetts
  • GPS: Lat 42.34924 Lng -71.07865
  • Parking notes: There are many parking options considering Boston Public Library is located in the popular Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. One of the largest and closest parking garages is the Prudential Center Parking Garage. The Prudential Center does charge a free to park. Aside from car parking, bike racks can be found in front of the library and nearby Subway stops are also convenient.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Bates Hall – Boston Public Library”