Plans for the new Semitic Museum have just been completed by A. W. Longfellow, of Boston, and of the estimates submitted by different contractors the lowest is about $67,000.
The erection of a Semitic Museum was made possible by Mr. Schiff, over a year ago, when he offered $25,000 for the purpose, on condition that an equal sum should be subscribed by others before July 1, 1899. When $18,000 of this sum had been secured, and the first of July was approaching, Mr. Schiff was asked to extend the time until the following autumn. He refused, but stated at the same time that he would give the whole amount of $50,000, if the other subscribers would allow their gifts to be used for purchasing collections. This was agreed to by all, and at present the total sum available for collections is $19,240.
The estimate of $67,000 for the construction of the building exceeded by $17,000 the amount offered. A large decline in the price of building material is expected, however, and in consideration of this, Mr. Schiff has agreed to increase his gift enough to put up the structure when its erection for $60,000 shall be possible.
When completed, it will stand on Divinity Avenue, facing east, about 75 feet south of the Peabody Museum. There will be three stories, with a frontage of 80 feet and an extreme depth of 84 feet. The latter dimension includes the rear addition, which will be 56 feet wide by 24 feet in depth. The building will be constructed of brick and lime-stone, with a granite base and steps. The interior construction is strictly fire-proof with concrete floors and no wood-work whatever. A complete system of heating and ventilating will be introduced.
The building is entered by a broad flight of steps, leading to a vestibule 24 feet wide and 8 feet deep. One side of it is partly occupied by a spiral fire-escape, reaching to the upper floor, and inclosed so that it is not visible from the outside. Passing through the entrance, a hall 13 feet wide extends through to the rear of the building. On the right is a lecture room, 30 feet by 50 feet. The floor will have an incline of about 4 feet, and it is expected that the room will seat 250 persons. To the left is another lecture room, 30 feet by 24 feet 6 inches, and adjoining it is a library of the same dimensions. The rear addition contains a small lecture room, 17 feet by 19 feet, opposite which is the stairway. The second floor has only two rooms; a large exhibition hall, 77 feet by 51 feet and the curator's room in the rear, 17 feet by 19 feet. The third floor is almost the same as the second; but the ceiling of the exhibition room has a raised skylight in the center to accommodate very tall objects.