El Centro El Centro El Centro

El Centro, Imperial County

San Diego to Imperial Valley area, Deserts region

El Centro Public Library
539 State Street
El Centro, CA 92243

opened 1911
Public Library 1911-present
currently a public library

grant amount: $10,000
architectural style: Classical Revival (Type A)/Other
architect: Samuel Zimmer


Both earthquake damage repair and population growth have resulted in a "new look" for the El Centro Carnegie. Behind its Modern lines, the original entrance of the old Classical Revival Carnegie may be seen as the wide front window in the left wing of the building. Other windows of the old Carnegie section have been plastered over. On the right, a new wing is set at an angle to the old, with the new entrance between the two. Located on State Street in the old downtown, its surroundings are both commercial and public.

El Centro was apparently the first community in the Imperial Valley to begin a library when in 1905 the community applied to the State Library for a traveling library. It was initially located in the town's first business building, a hardware store; subsequent relocations included the jail. Carnegie funds were sought; $10,000 was granted in 1909 but construction was delayed by James Bertram's disapproval of plans thought suitable for a hot climate, one large room with roof supported by many pillars. Samuel Zimmer designed the building. Extensive earthquake damage in the late 1920's necessitated drastic strengthening procedures with steel banding; with successive additions, the whole has been plastered over to create a look reflective of a later period.