Nationwide and in California, most Carnegies were designed by
architects who designed only one. Of the few "Carnegie specialists,"
probably the most prolific were Patton & Miller of Chicago who designed more
than one hundred Carnegies in the Midwest and as far afield as Wyoming and
Louisiana. In California, William H. Weeks designed twenty-two Carnegies.
F.P. Burnham and Burnham & Bliesner accounted for another twelve.
In addition to being numerous, the Carnegie libraries of William H.
Weeks, built between 1902 to 1921, span nearly the entire Carnegie period and
demonstrate the chronological evolution of style over those years. Three of
his earlier commissions, in 1902, 1903, and 1904, were in the Romanesque
style, while another, his 1903 design for Watsonville, was an elaborate
variation on the triumphal arch theme. From 1906 through 1911 he designed
eight Classical Revival Carnegies, of which seven were the temple style, and
one Spanish Revival building. Between 1913 and 1921 he built seven Classical
Revival libraries, two in the triumphal arch style and five in the more
minimalist style, as well as two Craftsman cottage libraries.
Eighteen of the twenty-two Weeks' Carnegies are still standing, as
is his 1915 addition to Woodland. Six are listed on the National Register of
Historic Places. Nine of his Classical Revival libraries are extant,
including all seven of his "temple style" buildings, pedimented and
columned, mostly of brick with quoins. As a group, these are the familiar
"look-alike Carnegies": Gilroy, Paso Robles, Livermore, Lompoc, Richmond,
Oroville, and Roseville. Some were saved after considerable local effort.
Two of Weeks' "triumphal arch" Carnegies survive: Oakland/Melrose, and South
San Francisco. Other survivors are the Spanish Revival Monterey, the smaller
Classical Revival buildings designed for Santa Cruz/Garfield, Santa
Cruz/East Cliff & Seabright, Yreka, and Orland, and the Yolo Craftsman
The eleven Carnegies designed by Burnham & Bliesner and by F.P.
Burnham alone are all located in Southern California or the southern coastal
region and range in date from 1903 to 1909. Colton, Oxnard, and the academic
library built for Claremont's Pomona College survive. Except for the
Mission style Riverside, all were Classical Revival, three in the triumphal
arch mode and eight temple style.
Several cities hosted competitions for the design of their libraries.
San Diego and Fresno competitions were won by New York firms, Ackerman &
Ross and Copeland & Dole. These early libraries were funded for the
relatively higher amounts of $60,000 and $30,000, respectively. Both were in
the triumphal arch style and both were demolished in the 1950's.
When after a 1912 public vote San Francisco finally accepted its 1901
Carnegie grant, it selected prominent architects: Bliss & Faville's San
Francisco buildings included the Southern Pacific and Matson Buildings, Geary
Theater, St. Francis Hotel, Bank of California, and the State Building at the
Civic Center; George Kelham designed the Russ and Shell buildings; John Reid
Jr., designed many schools including Mission High; Ernest Coxhead is known
especially for his distinctive shingle-style residences and churches
throughout the Bay Area; and G. Albert Lansburgh designed a number of
theaters and auditoriums including the Warfield and Golden Gate in San
Of the notable Carnegie architects, probably the best known today is
Julia Morgan, whose sole Carnegie was an academic library, the Margaret
Carnegie Library at Mills College. Allison & Allison also designed just one
Carnegie but their design for an "intellectual park" in the fast-growing city
of Calexico drew widespread admiration. Unfortunately, when Carnegie funding
was less than expected the plan was severely compromised.
Except for the branch designed by Weeks, the Oakland branches were
the work of Donovan and Dickey. Stone & Smith of San Francisco designed
three very different Carnegies, the Romanesque Chico, Classical Revival
Colusa, and Spanish Revival Hayward. Marsh & Russell designed Carnegies in
Santa Monica, Hollywood, and South Pasadena, and Norman Marsh himself is
associated with the layout of the canal concept for Venice, near Santa
Monica. Benjamin McDougall designed the Romanesque Carnegie in Hanford, as
well as Carnegies in Visalia and Pacific Grove, and the Federal Building in
Oakland. Brainerd Jones designed three Carnegies in Sonoma County. In San
Jose, Jacob Lenzen designed many commercial, civic and residential
structures. He and Theodore Lenzen are variously mentioned in connection
with the San Jose/East San Jose Carnegie and the Salinas Carnegie. Both Jacob's
brother Theodore and his son Theodore were architects, and apparently each
sometimes worked with him.
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