Exeter, Tulare County

San Joaquin Valley/South area, Central Valley region

Carnegie Community Building
309 South E Street
Exeter, CA 93221

opened 1916
Public library from 1916-1975
currently a community center

grant amount: $5,000
architectural style: Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival
architect: A. Merrill Bowser

Streets in the old central rectangle of Exeter are laid out on the diagonal, conforming to the path of the Southern Pacific railway which arrived in 1888. The Carnegie Community Building, which combines Mission Revival and Classic elements is located in the old part of town in City Park, between D, E, Chestnut, and Cedar streets, under tall shade trees planted prior to the library siting. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

In Exeter, no library existed until 1910 when the Exeter Women's Club, campaigned for a State Library "deposit station." A few months later Tulare County established its county library system and Exeter became a branch. With county support, Exeter applied for Carnegie funding and received $5000 in 1914, but Carnegie aide James Bertram and the city engaged in long and testy debate about plans, site, and choice of architect before funds were forthcoming. Eventually A. Merrill Bowser designed the building which combines Mission Revival and Classic elements. When a new library was built nearby in the park, the old library became a meeting hall for clubs and groups, and a senior dining center.