As you walk toward the Main Library building in downtown Rock Island, let your eyes wander up the side of the outside walls, above the Ionic columns and highest windows.
Just under the roofline, stretching all the way around the outside perimeter of the building, you will discover the names of twelve noteworthy men of letters whom history has honored with continual prominence. These names are important decorations and are a part of the library’s famous frieze. This frontispiece has provided inspiration for our annual Frieze Lecture series sponsored in the autumn of each year.
Whose Names Appear Around our Building?
Homer: Greek poet, credited with two epic works, the Iliad & the Odyssey.
Longfellow (Henry Wadsworth): American poet, educator and linguist, famed for Song of Hiawatha, The Children’s Hour and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (from Tales of a Wayside Inn).
Emerson (Ralph Waldo): American author, orator, poet and philosopher; often quoted.
Virgil: Classical poet of the Roman era, works include The Aeneid.
Hugo (Victor): French author, famed for Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Shakespeare (William): England’s favorite, and most famous, playwright and poet.
Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von): German poet, novelist, playwright and natural philosopher, best known for Faust.
Burns (Robert): Scotland’s poet laureate, creator of Tam O’Shanter, Auld Lang Syne, To a Mouse and many other works.
Tegner (Esaias): popular Swedish poet of the 19th century.
Dante (Alighieri): Italian, author of the Divine Comedy.
Hawthorne (Nathaniel): 19th century American author; works include House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter.
Bancroft (George): American historian and founder of U.S. Naval Academy; one of the prominent citizens chosen to ride the original 1854 Grand Excursion.
* What is a frieze? It is an architectural term for a horizontal band of painted or carved decoration running around the top of a wall. It was often found in classical architecture, such as on Greek and Roman temples.