The Malden Public Library’s historic wrought-iron gates have been restored to their original condition and returned to the Salem Street entrance where they have enclosed the walled garden, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, at the front entrance, since 1911.
They were designed by Ludvig Sandoe Ipsen, purchased in 1910 from a $1,000 donation from Mrs. Lillie A.B. Hill of Malden and produced by W.A. Snow Iron Work, Inc. L.S. Ipsen, decorative artist, was born in Denmark and a graduate of the Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen. He arrived in Boston around 1867 and eventually moved to Malden.
Expressing himself most famously in the decorative arts and illustration, Ipsen was most noted for his book covers, book titles and book plates according to The American Bookmaker, July, 1886. His illustrated work of “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” by E.B Browning (Tribner & Co.), was described as having been decorated “with exquisite draughtmanship and engraving and designed with taste and grace such as we rarely find surpassed” by The Athenaeum Journal of Literature, Science, The Fine Arts, Music and The Drama, January to June 1886.
These qualities are displayed in the illustration shown and the two gates where black iron leaves wrap like delicate, flowing hands around serpentine spirals that are encased in strong, straight bars guarding their post like ebony sentinels.
On a summer’s day you might take a walk to the gates and experience one of Malden’s many treasures. –Elizabeth Scorsello
Sources: Malden Public Library, Marmion illustration: oldbookillustration.com; L.S. Ipsen, title vignette from “Marmion,” by Walter Scott, illustrated under the direction of A.V.S. Anthony, Boston 1885. Photos by Elizabeth Scorsello