Eureka, Humboldt County

North Coast/Redwoods area, North Coast region

Old Carnegie Library Building
636 F Street
Eureka, CA 95501

opened 1904
Public library from 1904-1972
currently the Morris Graves Museum of Art

grant amount: $20,000
architectural style: Classical Revival (Type B)
architect: Evans and Tarver


From the northwest corner of Seventh and F streets in downtown Eureka, the historic Classical Revival Old Carnegie Library faces the equally historic Tudor style Eureka Inn at the southeast corner; both are listed on the National Register. The Carnegie presents a striking appearance, its red brick exterior contrasted with yellow tapered fans above the windows and Mad River granite lintels and sills.

Eureka was the first city to finance a public library under California's 1878 Rogers Act. Earlier Eureka libraries dating from 1859 had lapsed and revived, but even after city support was obtained the library was housed in rented quarters. In 1901 Carnegie funding was sought, and an offer of $20,000 was received. Prominent local architects Knowles Evans and B.C. Tarver won an architectural competition; Ambrose Foster was the contractor. When building costs exceeded the grant an additional $10,000 was unsuccessfully sought from Carnegie. Since 1972 several library administration and historical uses have shared the space, still impressive with the colorful tiled floor of the portico extending to the interior where two story solid redwood columns circle the rotunda. The dome has been removed; a skylight remains. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Eureka's newly restored Carnegie library building combines architecture and art in the Morris Graves Museum of Art. Opened January 1, 2000, the building is owned and operated by local arts agency Humboldt Arts Council and now offers one of the finest exhibition spaces available on the West Coast. The Eureka landmark houses seven premier galleries, including a courtyard sculpture garden; a performance rotunda for music, dance and literary arts; a young artist's academy; and a community arts resource center.

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