DETROIT (WJBK) - It's easy to get caught up in all of the hustle and bustle happening in downtown Detroit. In fact, you could be driving by perhaps the best hidden gem in the city and not even know it -- the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.
Back in 2013, main branch library tours were revived by two women, Patrice Merritt and Barbara Cohn. The tours have quickly become very popular.
It's the crown jewel of one the largest library systems in the United States. The main branch is much more than just books. It's a lesson of history, not just of the City of Detroit, but also of art and architecture.
"I thought, if I'm interested in this incredible building, other people might be interested in finding out about the history, the art and the architecture," Cohn says.
Throughout the tour, you'll be introduced to several murals and a beautiful loggia.
"We have a loggia that has seven arches and on the top of each arch are tiny pieces of Pewabic tile. People don't even know it's there. That's probably one of the unique features," says Cohn.
To give people a better idea of the story behind the libray and it's artworks, the women pleged to write a book detailing the past, present and future. It's called "The Detroit Public Library: An American Classic."
"This is a grand building in a great city that, through very difficult times throughout its history, has still been able to maintain one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in the country," says Merritt. "That cornerstone out there says 1917 - we're in a 100-year-old building, which showcases this city beautifully."
The library offers three free tours a month. Registration is required. You can look at the upcoming dates online and register at www.dpltour.org.
Tours are free but donations are accepted, which go to support the DPL Friend's Foundation.
Also, on Wednesday, May 17, is a launch party for Merritt and Cohn's new book, "The Detroit Public Library: An American Classic." It's happening at the main branch from 6-8 p.m. You can get more information about the launch party and the book here.
the main branch of the Detriot Public Library is located on Woodward Avenue between Kirby and Putnam, across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts.