Plans for the new Cooperstown institution were first unveiled in July 1937, with Frank Whiting, a local architect, given the responsibility of designing the new structure. The two-story building had a Colonial design with walls made from James River Colonial brick integrated with stone while on top sat a slate roof. The 1,200-square-foot first floor served as plaque gallery, museum, library, ticket office, retail shop and director’s office, while the second floor stored library materials.
In 1946, the architectural firm of Harry St. Clair Zogbaum drafted plans to double the size of the facility. This addition, with a cost of $175,000, to the west side of the original structure, increased exhibit space and created a new entrance. It was dedicated on July 24, 1950.
The Plaque Gallery, a chapel-like structure built of brick and steel with Vermont black marble columns supporting a lofted ceiling, was dedicated on Aug. 4, 1958.
“In the 1950s, we really began to realize that we were two institutions under one roof - a Hall of Fame, where we honored the all-time greats, and a museum, where we told the history of baseball,” said former Baseball Hall of Fame Director Howard Talbot. “We needed to build a gallery to make that distinction and accommodate the growing number of elected members.”
Expansion and renovations completed in 1950 and 1958 enabled the museum to display more of its growing number of artifacts and accommodate the increasing number of visitors.
With students of the game needing better access to the library’s holdings that were located inside the museum, a separate library building was added in 1968.
A building to house the Baseball Hall of Fame Library was built in Cooper Park, next to the museum, and was dedicated on July 22, 1968, in conjunction with that year’s Induction Ceremony.
With its attendance continuing to increase, the Hall of Fame completed its fourth expansion in 1980. The three-year, $3 million project included the construction of a west wing attached to the 1950 addition, which mirrored the original building and added symmetry to the overall appearance from the street entrance.