Carnegie Libraries in the
Classical Revival (Type A)
The Classical Revival style as represented in California Carnegie
library buildings achieves a monumental effect, but in most cases the
buildings are surprisingly small. Their classicism displays the community's
cultural achievement while their size is a reflection of the population at
the time of its Carnegie application and therefore of the size of the grant.
Symmetrical, with few angles or projections, their roof lines are generally
level, or slightly hipped, and mostly unadorned. Greek orders are used more
than Roman, and pedimented porticoes are frequent. While smooth or polished
stone surfaces are frequent, brick and, later, concrete and plaster were used
in many of the California buildings.
Type A (Triumphal Arch): The central element modeled on a Roman
triumphal arch, with free standing or engaged columns supporting an
entablature and attic.
California examples of the Classical Revival Triumphal Arch (Type A)
span the state's Carnegie history from the first year (San Diego, completed
in 1902) to the last (San Francisco/Presidio, completed in 1921), although
fewer were constructed in the later years. Twenty-four California Carnegies
were constructed in this style.
Extant representatives are San Rafael, South Pasadena, El Centro,
Hollister, Upland, Grass Valley, Oakland/Melrose, South San Francisco, and
San Francisco/Presidio. El Centro was substantially altered due to
earthquake repair as well as expansion. South Pasadena has been expanded and
restored several times and few if any elements of the Carnegie remain. Like
Chico among the Romanesque, its listing here represents only its original
Those no longer standing, in chronological order of construction, are
San Diego, Pomona, San Jose, San Bernardino, Fresno, Tulare, Watsonville,
Monrovia, Long Beach, San Leandro, National City, Glendale, Los
Angeles/Arroyo Seco and /Vernon, and East San Diego. San Jose and San
Bernardino, and perhaps others, were domed.