Research Library

Access to the library and special collections is by appointment only, Tuesday through Saturday, 9AM to 5PM. Please contact Emery Cox for an appointment. We welcome both casual and research-focused visitors alike.

Above: The National Building Arts Center library (Michael Wentzel)

Our research library holds more than 300,000 items related to architecture, industry, and the allied arts in single titles, periodicals, primary documents, construction drawings, and trade catalogs.

Special collections include original source material from numerous manufacturers of building materials, various corporate archives, and an estimated 6,000 photographs and prints.

The library contains a substantial St. Louis component with many rare and unique books and manuscripts. Records of the United Railways Co. are the archives’ largest single holding of St. Louis material; records include correspondence, photographs, and an estimated 20,000 original linen drawings documenting the manufacturing of streetcars, construction of buildings and bridges, and the laying of some 450 miles of track.

NBAC is a contributor to the Association for Preservation Technology’s Building Technology Heritage Library, a free online repository of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books, and technical building guides. Digitized content from NBAC and other contributors can be found via the Internet Archive.


Above: The National Building Arts Center patent library (Michael Wentzel)

Special Collections


Mesker Collection

Architectural and Engineering Drawings

  • William C. E. Becker
  • Klipstein & Rathmann
  • River Roads Shopping Center
  • Sterling Steel Casting Co.

Photographs and Prints

  • Midland Terra Cotta Co.
  • American Face Brick Association
  • Hydraulic Press Brick Co.
  • General Motors Plant, St Louis
  • Mesker Brothers Iron Co.
  • Atlantic Terra Cotta Co.
  • The Haydite Co.
  • Mississippi River Transmission (Gas Pipeline)
  • St Louis Public Service Co.
  • O W Ketcham Terra Cotta Works
  • Fulton Iron Works
  • Guth Lighting Co.
  • St Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • Union Electric Co. (Cahokia Power Plant)
  • Meramec Iron Works
  • Illinois Power & Light
  • Maritz & Young Architects
  • Laclede Gas Light Co.
  • Koplar Bros. Builders
  • Bank Building Corp.
  • Barnet Haynes & Barnet Architects
  • St Louis Steel Castings
  • Omeara & Hills Architects
  • 900 North Michigan Building
  • Algonite Stone Mfg.
  • Illinois & St Louis Bridge Co. (Eads Bridge)
  • Mcquay Norris Co.
  • Louis F. (Rocky) Rhodes (1929-2009) Auto Racing Collection
  • St Louis General Motors Plant

Trade Catalogs


Trade Unions

Building trade unions are represented in extensive library holdings as well as in special collections of historic artifacts and regalia.


  • St Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • St Louis Historic Sites Committee
  • Market Preservation
  • Multiple Boring Machine Co.
  • The Bayer Co. (power plant equipment)


  • Guth Lighting Co.
  • Bayley Sash Co. 
  • Weisert Tobacco Co.
  • Comet Theater (Thomas James, Spyros Skouras)
  • River Roads Shopping Center
  • National Lightning Protection Co. (formerly St. Louis Lightning Rod Co.)

Street Railways – Motor Buses

  • United Railways Company of St. Louis
  • People’s Motor Bus Co.


  • Sterling Steel Casting Co.
  • St Louis Steel Casting Co.
  • Midwest Alloys Co.
  • Tulsa Fittings Co.
  • Commonwealth Steel Co.
  • General Steel Castings Co.
  • Tower Grove Iron Works
  • Victor Iron Works
  • La Grange Iron Co.

Terra Cotta

  • Boston Terra Cotta Co.
  • Chicago Terra Cotta Co.
  • Northwestern Terra Cotta Co.
  • Chicago Crucible Co.
  • Winkle Terra Cotta Co.
  • Lakeview Terra Cotta Co.


  • Missouri Press Brick Co.
  • Union Press Brick Co.
  • The Haydite Co.
  • Frederick Brick Works
  • Hydraulic Press Brick Co.