Calexico, Imperial County

San Diego to Imperial Valley area, Deserts region

Old Carnegie Library Building
420 Heber Avenue
Calexico, CA 92231

opened 1919
Calexico Public Library 1919-1986
currently vacant

grant amount: $10,000
architectural style: Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival/Other
architect: Allison and Allison

Calexico Carnegie Library circa 1919.   

As portrayed in widely publicized drawings by well known architects Allison and Allison, the Calexico Carnegie, Spanish Revival in style and intricately detailed, was to be the centerpiece for a planned "intellectual park." A smaller Carnegie grant than hoped for resulted in a more simple building, and subsequent earthquake damage and repair have detracted from its appearance. The park, however, with the old library near its southeast corner of Heber Avenue and Fifth Street, continues to accommodate some public buildings as well as recreation.

Although the Imperial County Library had provided a branch for Calexico, in 1914 the Women's Improvement Club, together with the Farmers and Merchants Club, encouraged the City to apply for Carnegie funds for a "more metropolitan" library, "more in keeping with the progressive spirit of the town," growing rapidly with the introduction of irrigation. Allison and Allison planned an "intellectual park" to contain a number of public and community buildings. However the $10,000 offered by Carnegie in 1915 fell far short of the $25,000 on which the plans were based. After much discussion with Carnegie, in 1917 they accepted the $10,000, but the full concept was never realized. Many views exist of the planned building but none has been found of the library as built. After a new library was built on another site in 1986, the Carnegie was used for storage and in 1993 was slated for destruction but citizens rallied in its support. Potential plans include its restoration.

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