One of the most beautiful libraries in Maryland is John Hopkins’ George Peabody Library. Located in the world-renowned Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, the Peabody is the 19th century research library of Johns Hopkins University's Sheridan Libraries Special Collections. The library’s magnificent settings have made it one of the city’s most popular venues for weddings, events, and … of course the movies (think Sleepless In Seattle).

The George Peabody Library's main reading room.

The George Peabody Library's main reading room.

The George Peabody Library was once known as the Library of the Peabody Institute. Established in 1857 by George Peabody, a Massachusetts-born philanthropist who "gave $300,000 as a beginning sum for the Peabody Institute," the library is a historic institution of the City of Baltimore. Mr. Peabody lived briefly in Washington, DC, fought in the War of 1812, and in 1816, he moved to Baltimore and resided there for the next 20 years.

A reading alcove in the main reading room of the George Peabody Library.

A reading alcove in the main reading room of the George Peabody Library.

A keen businessman, Mr. Peabody accumulated tremendous wealth and later settled in London to direct the banking firm George Peabody & Co. His goal was to dedicate the Institute to the residents of Baltimore and create a library "for the free use of all persons who desire to consult it." The construction of the new Peabody Institute was delayed by the Civil War and the building eventually opened in 1866. In 1878, the George Peabody Library joined the Conservatory and was immediately well-known as one of the most spectacular buildings in Baltimore. 

The Peabody Library today has over 300,000 volumes of (mostly) 18th and 19th century literature. Books in archaeology, British art and architecture, British and American history, biography, English and American literature, Greek and Latin classics, are among many of the classic volumes housed in the Library collection.  

The card catalog at the George Peabody Library.

The card catalog at the George Peabody Library.

Maryland history books are among the volumes populating the shelves at the George Peabody Library.

Maryland history books are among the volumes populating the shelves at the George Peabody Library.

Designed by architect Edmund G. Lind, the library is world-famous for its stunning five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies rising dramatically 61 feet above the floor (ironwork fabricated by the Bartlett-Robbins & Company). The Peabody Library is one of the few examples of Edmund Lind's designs still remained from the architect’s lifelong, distinguished career. 

The George Peabody Library is world-famous for its beautiful five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies rising 61 feet above the floor (ironwork fabricated by the Bartlett-Robbins & Company). 

The George Peabody Library is world-famous for its beautiful five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies rising 61 feet above the floor (ironwork fabricated by the Bartlett-Robbins & Company). 

The stunning five tears of ornamental cast-iron balconies of the George Peabody Library rising 61 feet to a glass skylight ceiling above. Photo by Matthew Petroff.

The stunning five tears of ornamental cast-iron balconies of the George Peabody Library rising 61 feet to a glass skylight ceiling above. Photo by Matthew Petroff.

The Peabody Library belonged to the Peabody Institute until 1967, when the City of Baltimore took over and made it a department in the Enoch Pratt Free Library. In 1982, Johns Hopkins University acquired the Peabody Library and made it a part of the Eisenhower Library's Special Collections department and the JHU Sheridan Libraries system.

In accordance to the provisions of Mr. Peabody's original gifting terms, the George Peabody Library is a non-circulating collection open to the general public.

The George Peabody Library is free for the public to use every day, in accordance with Mr. Peabody's gifting terms. 

The George Peabody Library is free for the public to use every day, in accordance with Mr. Peabody's gifting terms. 

On some of the desks in the George Peabody Library, there are vases of fresh flowers. 

On some of the desks in the George Peabody Library, there are vases of fresh flowers. 

If you're, like me, a big fan of the rom-com Sleepless in Seattle, you may remember the scene where Annie (Meg Ryan) pays her brother a visit at his office. She pulls her car up in front of a beautiful historic building in Baltimore where he works. That scene was filmed on location in front of the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Sleepless in Seattle of a scene filmed in front of the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Sleepless in Seattle of a scene filmed in front of the George Peabody Library.

The exterior of the George Peabody Library, where Annie pulls her car up and parks in Sleepless In Seattle. 

The exterior of the George Peabody Library, where Annie pulls her car up and parks in Sleepless In Seattle

The exterior of the George Peabody Library, where Annie pulls her car up and parks in Sleepless In Seattle. 

The exterior of the George Peabody Library, where Annie pulls her car up and parks in Sleepless In Seattle

In the next scene, Annie walks through the Library's main room on her way to her brother's office. That scene was filmed in the main room of the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Sleepless In Seattle of Annie walking through her brother's office building - filmed on location at the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Sleepless In Seattle of Annie walking through her brother's office building - filmed on location at the George Peabody Library.

These artworks displayed in the George Peabody Library have been around since the filming of Sleepless In Seattle. (Look carefully at the screenshot above to see if you can spot them.) 

These artworks displayed in the George Peabody Library have been around since the filming of Sleepless In Seattle. (Look carefully at the screenshot above to see if you can spot them.) 

The main room in the George Peabody Library was also where the movie Washington Square (1997) was filmed. The Library stood in for a bookshop in Paris where Catherine Sloper went on an extended holiday with her father.

Screenshot from Washington Square of Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a Paris bookshop. This scene was filmed in the George Peabody Library by the stairs leading up to the book stacks above.

Screenshot from Washington Square of Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a Paris bookshop. This scene was filmed in the George Peabody Library by the stairs leading up to the book stacks above.

An alcove in the George Peabody Library similar to the one used as the film setting for Washington Square (see above). The stairs lead up to the stacks above the main level of the George Peabody Library. (The stacks upstairs are off-limit to the public.) 

An alcove in the George Peabody Library similar to the one used as the film setting for Washington Square (see above). The stairs lead up to the stacks above the main level of the George Peabody Library. (The stacks upstairs are off-limit to the public.) 

Screenshot from Washington Square of a Paris bookshop scene filmed on location at the main reading room of the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Washington Square of a Paris bookshop scene filmed on location at the main reading room of the George Peabody Library.

Screenshot from Washington Square of a scene filmed at the George Peabody Library's main reading groom (which stood in for a Paris bookshop).

Screenshot from Washington Square of a scene filmed at the George Peabody Library's main reading groom (which stood in for a Paris bookshop).

The main room of the George Peabody Library where Sleepless In Seattle and Washington Square were filmed.

The main room of the George Peabody Library where Sleepless In Seattle and Washington Square were filmed.

I was at the George Peabody Library last week to take photographs of the library. The minute I walked into the Library's main room, I was in awe. No matter how many photos I've seen of the library, seeing it in person literally took my breath away. The George Peabody Library is absolutely the most beautiful library I've ever seen. Nothing could have prepared me for seeing it in person.

Imagine being able to film your movie here. Wow.

Lucky for filmmakers and production companies, the George Peabody Library is currently listed on LocationsHub and is still available as a film location. If you're interested in filming at the George Peabody Library or filming in Maryland in general, contact the Maryland Film Office today.

For information on filming in Baltimore specifically, visit the Baltimore Film Office's website.

Both the Maryland Film Office and the Baltimore Film Office are LocationsHub's and Reel-Scout's clients.

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PHOTO CREDITS: Unless otherwise noted, all images used in this article were photographed by Sarah Le.

 

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