In addition to traditional library resources, the Paterson Public Library holds an important collection of 19th century American and European art and exhibits this art for the benefit of the people of Paterson. Most of the collection was given to the library early in the 20th Century by philanthropists Ralph P. Ross and Jennie Tuttle Hobart, wife of Garret A. Hobart, Vice-President of the United States under President William McKinley. Also on display are paintings, sculptures and decorative arts given by other individuals. Special changing exhibits by local artists are sometimes on view in the upstairs gallery.
The building itself is a valuable work of art. Completed in 1905, the Danforth Memorial (Main Library) at 250 Broadway was designed by architect Henry Bacon, who subsequently was chosen to design the Lincoln Memorial. Tours of the landmark building which is on the National Register of Historic Places emphasize its historical and architectural significance. Bacon’s original drawings are available on request. The Danforth Memorial was a gift of the always generous Mary Danforth Ryle in memory of her father, Charles Danforth. Mrs. Ryle also donated the previous library building (home of her parents) on the corner of Market and Church destroyed in the Great Fire of 1902 shortly after Mrs. Ryle contributed to a major expansion of the library.