San Diego San Diego

San Diego, San Diego County

San Diego to Imperial Valley area, San Diego County region

opened 1902
Public library from 1902-1952
demolished, 1952

grant amount: $60,000
architectural style: Classical Revival (Type A)
architect: Ackerman and Ross

San Diego received California's first Carnegie offer, a $50,000 grant in 1899 which was soon increased to $60,000. Libraries and reading rooms had been organized in San Diego in the 1870's, one involving the private library of Alonzo Horton. It was an 1881 effort that in 1882 became a city library, though still without a permanent home. At the urging of Lydia Horton, a Wednesday Club founding member and wife of Alonza Horton, one of the first goals of the 1895 Wednesday Club became the provision of a library building. As a library trustee, it was Lydia Horton who wrote to Andrew Carnegie in 1897. Upon receipt of the offer of Carnegie funding, a national competition was held, with instructions calling for a fireproof building of granite or brick, all rooms to receive as much daylight as possible. Winners were New York architects Ackerman and Ross, who had designed the Washington D.C. public library. A photograph of the Classical Revival style building was included in the 1985 Cooper Hewitt exhibit "Andrew Carnegie and His Libraries." The builders were Hebbard and Gill of San Diego. The cornerstone was laid on March 19, 1901 and the building opened on April 23, 1902. Prominent businessman George Marston provided for landscaping, including wooden walks and iron hitching posts. Photographs of the interior show both skylight and gallery. When more room was needed in the late 1920's, trustees rented space in adjacent buildings for many services and functions, and in 1930 the gallery of the old library was remodeled to provide continuous second floor space. In 1952 the building was demolished.