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Forum Building

This guide is created for employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Education who will be moving into the Forum Building showing the history of the building as well as the services of the State Library of Pennsylvania offered to those employees.

Welcome to the Forum Building!

This guide welcomes all the employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Education who will be moving to the Forum Building. The guide includes a history of the building. The services that the State Library of Pennsylvania offer to commonwealth employees are outlined.

See pictures of what the building looked like when it opened in 1931 versus what it looks like as you move in.


The Department of General Services recognized the need for a comprehensive renovation and modernization of the functionally obsolete Forum Building (opened in 1931),  while preserving important historical elements such as sculptures, murals, and architectural elements. Launched in January 2021, the $90 million renovation will modernize the building for the 21st century and allow the return of the Department of Education to the building in 2023 after 44 years at the 333 Market St. location. The project will add all new HVAC, fire detection, and suppression systems, elevators, a freight elevator, break and meeting rooms, open office spaces, electrical wiring, furniture, LED lighting, and energy efficiency windows. In addition, several important original architectural features will be restored including terrazzo floors, marble walls and wainscoting, bronze hardware and door restoration, woodwork refinishing, mural cleaning, and new paint following the building's original paint scheme.

  • Main bathrooms were updated in 2016 with modern sinks, lighting, and other equipment
  • Renovation will add gender neutral restrooms and nursing rooms
  • There is no cafeteria in the building but the Capitol Restaurant is just across the street in the Capitol Building 
  • Many restaurants are located on 2nd and 3rd St. Where can I eat?
  • Elevators are available to each of the floors. Push the up or down button and watch all four elevators. The elevator that comes may not be the one you are standing. You must wand your badge first and then pick the floor.
  • Stairwells are available if you want to get your steps in
  • A newly renovated loading dock is available on the Walnut St. side of the building
  • A freight elevator is available in the building
  • Water, refrigerators, and microwaves will be provided in break rooms on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors

Parking will be determined by the Department of Education.

Records Retention

Records Retention Policy


Eric Chubb:

Angie Riegel :

History of the Education/ Forum Building

The Education Building, commonly known as the Forum Building was constructed between 1929 and 1931 to serve as the home of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction (later renamed Department of Education). In addition to housing the Department of Public Instruction, the building was designed to house the State Library and State Law Library as well as a large public auditorium known as the Forum Auditorium. 

Education/ Forum Building Facts:

  • Construction began July 1, 1929. Dedicated November 4, 1931
  • Cost $5,500,000
  • Part of 1916 Arnold Brunner plan to complement the 1906 Capitol with a group of state office buildings flanking the State St. axis including: South Office Building (1921) (now Irvis House Office Bldg), North Office Building (1929), Education Building (1931), Finance Building (1939). Plan also included the State Street Bridge memorial pylons and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Grove. These state office buildings resulted in the razing of the old 8th ward neighborhood to make way for these structures.
  • Architects- William Gehron and Sidney F. Ross
  • Nelson-Pedley, Inc. Philadelphia - contractor
  • Forum Auditorium murals painted by Eric Gugler and Richard Brooks
  • Sculptor of bronze gates and elevator doors- Lee Lawrie
  • Sculptors of carved panels and modeled decoration in lobby and outside the Auditorium- C. Paul Jennewein and Henry Kreis
  • Painter of main lobby ceiling- Vincent Maragliotti
  • The Main and Law Libraries and Secretary's meeting room feature Mexican mahogany woodwork
  • The external frieze at the top of the building lists 35 Pennsylvania statesmen and educators
  • Department of Education moved to 333 Market St. in 1979

Education building, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, dedication: November fourth nineteen hundred thirty-one / [Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, 1931]

The State Library traces its origins back to 1745 when Benjamin Franklin, clerk of the Pennsylvania provincial Assembly, was authorized to purchase books containing the laws of Great Britain for the use of the Assembly's members as well as some large maps to be hung in the Assembly chamber. These books, purchased and expanded on for many years, became the core collection of the State Library when it was formally created by an act of the legislature in 1816. When the state capital moved to Harrisburg in the early 19th century, the State Library was housed in room(s) in the capitol building until moving to the new Executive, Library, and Museum building (now Ryan House Office building) in 1894. The library subsequently moved to the Education/ Forum building in 1931. Photographs of that move can be see here.

Additional history of the State Library and photographs of the 1931 move to the Education (Forum) building can be found in the following resources:

The State Library, its divisions and services / By Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Department of Public Instruction. Bulletin (Pennsylvania. Department of Public Instruction) ; n.s. no. 520. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania : Pennsylvania, Department of Public Instruction, 1954

Photographs of the Pennsylvania State Library / By Harry B. Herman, Enhaut, Pa., 1931.

Pictures of the Forum Building then and now

Photo of Main Library atrium, Education Building, about 1931.

View of State Library atrium woodwork restoration, September 2022.

Mock up of typical furniture/ cubicle on 5th floor.

View of Forum Auditorium rotunda, ca. 1931.

View of restored bronze torch light outside Forum Auditorium.

View of new landscaping outside Forum Auditorium.

View of original riveted steel truss work on third floor rotunda above the auditorium. This will be left exposed for architectural interest.

Trusses Third Floor rotunda March 2023

View from windows in 5th floor break room.

View of office space in rotunda area showing installation of raised flooring to allow electrical and internet cabling where needed.

View of marble walled lobby, ca. 1931.

Main Lobby March 2023

Main Lobby March 2023

View of marble bas relief sculptural panel in lobby, ca, 1931.

View of bas relief sculptural panel in lobby after cleaning, August 2022.

View of murals and decorations painted on ceiling of the lobby, ca. 1931.

View of cleaned mural on lobby ceiling, August 2022.

View of cleaned and restored ceiling in foyer, August 2022.

View of front of Forum Building from North Drive, ca. 1931.

Forum/ Education Building main entrance on South Drive March 2023

View of loggia overlook at front of the Forum Building, second floor, ca. 1931.

View of loggia overlook at front of the Forum Building, second floor, September 2022.

View of cleaned ceramic tile on ceiling of the loggia, September, 2022.

Door entrance to second floor from Loggia

View of Forum Building, about 1931.

View of Superintendent of Public Instruction's meeting room, ca. 1931.

Refinished woodwork Secretary of Education's Meeting room Third floor March 2023

Refinished woodwork Secretary of Education's Meeting room Third floor March 2023

View of paint scheme in historic main corridors, August 2022.

View of restored ground floor corridor outside of the Forum Auditorium, September 2022.

Image of renovated dressing room for Forum Auditorium, September 2022

View of original cove molding between wall and ceilings and paint scheme, August 2022.

View of marble paneled break room on fifth floor. The marble was reused from other parts of the building.

View of printing center, supplies cabinets on fifth floor.

View of Rare Collections Reading Room completed during 2004-2007 renovations.

State Library - Main Reading Room January 2023

Huddle Room January 2023

Elevator view January 2023

Large Conference Room January 2023

Large Conference Room March 2023

Small Conference Room, March 2023

Third floor conference room March 2023

Genealogy Room State Library March 2023

Repainted case work Bureau of Library Development, State Library second floor March 2023

Typical cubicle setup Fourth and Fifth Floors March 2023

Typical cubicle setup Fourth and Fifth Floors March 2023

Typical break room Fourth and Fifth Floors March 2023

Compact newspaper storage installation State Library March 2023

Compact newspaper storage installation State Library March 2023

Typical bureau director or higher administrator office March 2023

Typical breakroom Third Floor March 2023

State Library office space Second floor March 2023

State Library office space Second floor March 2023

State Library of Pennsylvania services

The State Library has been in business since 1745. Any active commonwealth employee with a valid State Library card may access and borrow from the State Library. The following link will take you to the various services that the State Library has to offer you.

State Library Services 

This includes over 4.5 million items such as books, newspapers, magazines, journals, maps, U.S. and Pennsylvania government documents.

Want to know more? Check out our guide of how to access all of our amazing things