San Francisco/Sunset, San Francisco County
San Francisco area, San Francisco Bay Area region
Sunset Branch Library
In accordance with the 1901 letter from Andrew Carnegie to Mayor James Phelan, promising $750,000 for a main library and branches, the Carnegie funds were allocated more or less one half for a main library and the remainder for branches. The city paid the difference between the main library's Carnegie share and its $1,152,000 total cost. The branch share was divided among seven libraries. No lots were donated and land costs ranged from a high in densely populated Mission property to a city owned lot in less developed Richmond; in at least one case the neighbors contributed to land costs.
Most of the branches have been enlarged very slightly, all have been retrofitted due to higher standards and varying degrees of earthquake damage, and all are included in San Francisco's "List of Architecturally Significant Buildings." And all of the branches still serve as libraries.
On the southwest corner of Irving Street and 18th Avenue, the Sunset branch, San Francisco's fifth Carnegie branch, is just visible from cars rushing by on the 19th Avenue thoroughfare. The 75'x100' lot was purchased for $7,000. Architect G. Albert Lansburgh drew two plans, one rectangular with interior stairs much like Mission and Noe Valley, the other octagonal. The octagonal was judged "quite impossible" and the other plan approved with slight revision; the library was completed at a cost of $43,955. In this version of the Classical Revival, the central entrance is recessed within a loggia formed by three tall round arches supported by two segmented Corinthian columns and two pilasters. Names of authors, many Western, are inscribed under the sills of recessed arched windows.