Oakland/Miller Avenue

Oakland/Miller Avenue, Alameda County

East Bay Loop area, San Francisco Bay Area region

1449 Miller Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601

opened 1918
23rd Avenue Branch 1918-1966
Ina Coolbrith Branch 1966-1972
Latin American Branch 1972-1976
currently vacant

grant amount: $35,000
architectural style: Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival
architect: Donovan & Dickey

Four branch libraries in Oakland were constructed between 1916 and 1918, the result of a 1914 Carnegie grant of $140,000 obtained specifically for branch libraries by Oakland's city librarian Charles S. Greene. Oakland pioneered branch libraries, opening branch reading rooms as early as 1878, and later emphasizing neighborhood branches. Greene's branch request matched Andrew Carnegie's philosophy wherein more recent grants focused on small towns and on branches in metropolitan areas to bring books closer to the people where they lived. However, controversy surrounded the attempt to allocate the four sites evenly between established working class neighborhoods and newer middle class neighborhoods east of Lake Merritt. Today three serve as libraries, all of which have been retrofitted and restored.

Architects C.W. Dickey and John Donovan were chosen to design the Miller Avenue library, along with the Alden and Golden Gate branches. The Spanish Revival building is located on the southwest corner of Miller Avenue and East 15th Street near the intersection of Foothill Blvd. and 23rd Avenue. Its neighborhood is now mainly commercial and industrial with some residential. The building is no longer part of the library system; it has served as an alternative school for the Oakland public schools, was briefly a social service facility, and has had several periods of vacancy.