Over the years, newcomers to the South End regularly told FOSEL they had no idea the modernist angular structure at the corner of West Newton and Tremont Streets was a library. One early FOSEL board member walked by it for years, certain it housed a utility company's offices. Only a small sign in an awkward location high up a column supporting the entrance overhang explained this building was, in fact, the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library. Confusion over what the building might be about has been eliminated by prominent new lettering installed on the Tremont Street side of the branch earlier this month. Designed by Mary Owens, who has created many posters for author talks and events at the library, the lettering project, which cost a little over $4,000, was paid for equally by the Boston Public Library and its Friends group, FOSEL. The defensive posture of the 1971 branch's exterior reflected a time when urban street life in the South End (and elsewhere) was not particularly hospitable and buildings felt safer when they looked like fortresses. Designed by
the prominent architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola, originally from Philadelphia but since established in New York City, the branch's external architecture also belies the bright, sunny and colorful interior with its dynamic interplay of angular spaces.