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.
Parking will be determined by the Department of Education.
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:
Education building, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, dedication: November fourth nineteen hundred thirty-one / [Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, 1931]
Information about the architectural elements and art work can be found in these original booklets:
Education building, Capitol park, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania / By Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction and Pennsylvania Department of Property and Supplies. Harrisburg, Pa. : J. Horace McFarland Co., 1932.
Education building / By Federal Writers Project (Pa.) Bulletin (Pennsylvania. Department of Public Instruction) ; n.s. no. 13. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania. Department of Public Instruction, 1939.
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
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.
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