National Library Week

Submitted by krinehart on April 21, 2012 - 2:37pm

SR Carnegie Library 1903 SCL Photo No 4834

Better late than never!  Last Sunday (4/15/12) marked the end National Library Week which seems like a good opportunity to talk about the Santa Rosa Carnegie Library that once stood at Fourth and E Streets.

The library was designed by Ernest M. Hoen of Sacramento and constructed by William Peacock of San Francisco. The cornerstone was laid on April 14, 1903 and the doors opened on March 10, 1904.

SR Carnegie Library Cornerstone and Box of Contents SCL Photo No 2618

Lucy Kortum, in her SSU Master’s thesis: California Carnegie Libraries 1899-1921, describes the building as an example of the Romanesque style characterized by round arches, rock-faced masonry, lintels and other structural features emphasized by the use of a variety of stone. Romanesque buildings might contain both arched and straight topped windows, with stone mullions and transoms, and towers were frequent.

Demolition of SR Carnegie Library SCL Photo No 4983

The Santa Rosa Carnegie Library included most of these features. Complex in construction, there appears to have been a large cross gable wing, with another gable to the front next to a tower with parapets, and low round arched entrance topped with a fenestrated parapet. Roof lines were hipped, gable, and at the tower, pyramid. Main floor windows were tall and narrow and deeply recessed, windows high in gable end and tower were much smaller, and grade level basement windows wider and rectangular. The building was constructed of locally quaried basalt blocks, with the same material used for lintels, arches, sills and course lines.

The Santa Rosa Carnegie Library was demolished in 1964 and the “new” library was completed in 1967.

New Santa Rosa Library Completed in 1967 SCL Photo No 7632


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Although I am so appreciative of the fact that you have this detailed information and photos of the beautiful library that was first designed and built for Santa Rosa, I am so distressed that it was torn down to make way for a rather bland new (no doubt, more functional) library. It would have been such a wonderful turn of events if a modern use could have been found for the older, more elegant building that was once the home of the Santa Rosa library. Such is the path of so many beautiful old buildings, sad to say. But, I am glad that I happened upon this article and photos today.

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