Carnegie Libraries in the
Classical Revival (Type C)
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 C: The central element is more like a three-dimensional door
frame which extends forward from the flat plane of the rectangular building,
and which does not break the roof line. The simple style easily accommodated
a variety of architectural elements and became increasingly popular in the
later Carnegie years when grants were smaller and materials more costly.
As described by Van Slyck, the Classical Revival style lends itself
to incorporation of elements of other styles. In California, the type can be
divided into those more purely classical, and those incorporating Mission
elements. In many cases the line was very thin between classification as
Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival with classical elements or as Classical
Revival Type C with Mission elements.
Sixteen are more strictly Classical, without extensive incorporation
of elements from other styles. They are characterized by symmetry and a
central entrance element, with an assortment of segmented pediments, columns,
pilasters and parapets. The extant examples of the type are Ferndale, Mill
Valley, Sonoma, Willits, Yreka, Antioch, San Francisco's Noe Valley and
Sunset branches, Santa Monica/Ocean Park, Bayliss, Newman, and Alturas.
Alturas now more closely resembles the Moderne style, having been
substantially altered, inside and out. Those no longer standing are Redwood
City, San Mateo, Huntington Beach, and Sebastopol.
Also in this group but less clearly Classical are Lakeport and Ukiah,
both symmetrical, simple and dignified. Ukiah has also been described as
"Prairie" and "Modern." Redding, completed in 1904, was asymmetrical but
somewhat Classical with an arched loggia and tall parapet; it was destroyed
in 1962. If research reveals that Calexico was built in the style in which
it now appears, it might be reclassified with Lakeport and Ukiah.
The thirteen with Mission elements applied to Classical Revival are
characterized by symmetry and a central entrance element, and also arched
and tile openings, tile roofs, hipped or gable roof lines, curvilinear gable
ends, and wide arched windows. Extant examples are Anaheim, Lincoln, Santa
Cruz/Garfield and Santa Cruz/East Cliff & Seabright, San Francisco/Richmond,
Turlock, Gridley, Orland, and Patterson. Demolished are Sanger, Dinuba, and
Los Angeles/Boyle Heights, and Berkeley. Berkeley, demolished in 1930, was
the first California Carnegie to be lost.