Carnegie Libraries in the
Classical Revival (Type B)
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 B (Greek Temple): The central pavilion dominated by a temple front, a
triangular pediment above the entablature and supported by free-standing or
engaged columns or by an arched opening.
Thirty-six Temple Style Classical Revival California Carnegies were
completed between 1903 and 1915. As a group these buildings received smaller
grants than the Type A and were generally smaller in size.
The twenty-one extant public library representatives of this
group range from medium sized to small, with probably Alameda
the largest and Lincoln the smallest. Alameda, Eureka, Petaluma,
Colusa, Claremont/Pomona College, Colton, Auburn, Gilroy,
Healdsburg, Lompoc, Willows, Paso Robles, Livermore, Oroville,
Roseville, and Vacaville are essentially unaltered, though
several have been renovated and interior adjustments made to
accommodate new uses. Major additions have been made to East
San Jose, Lodi, Oxnard, Richmond and Beaumont.
Fifteen are no longer standing: Santa Monica, Vallejo, Covina, San
Pedro, Ontario, Corona, Whittier, Orange, Imperial, Salinas, Santa Maria,
Azusa, Escondido, Hemet, and Watts. Santa Monica and San Pedro, along with
the extant Eureka, featured domes. The Corona building, which had been on
the National Register, was demolished in 1978; no California Carnegie has
been lost since that date.