Additions and Changes to California Carnegie Libraries

Much of the Carnegie correspondence relates efforts by city officials to convince James Bertram that figures from the last census seriously under-represented their present population, much less their expected population, and also failed to take into account the numbers of people they served from surrounding areas. Bertram rejected population estimates. He recommended that the library should be designed to accommodate possible future expansion but refused to adjust grants to meet those expectations. Many communities found themselves outgrowing their libraries within a few years. Carnegie did fund additions to some earlier libraries, such as in Riverside, Pomona, San Bernardino, and South Pasadena, but more often the city was expected to use its own taxing or bonding powers once its original library had been constructed.

A number of libraries later expanded by adding directly to the back. Sometimes the size of the rectangle was more or less doubled by a rear extension which duplicated the building materials and design elements of the original building. Richmond, Lodi, Ferndale, Hollister, Oxnard, and San Anselmo are examples of this approach. At Oxnard, a new addition with a lower first floor ceiling and an upper gallery provided considerable additional space. Second floor space in the Ferndale rear addition was accomplished by a slight adjustment to the roof line.

Pacific Grove is unique with several additions to the front, while the back of the old building is still visible from the rear, and original elements of the first and second versions are clearly discernible in the interior. Santa Cruz/East Cliff & Seabright has been extended to the rear twice to accommodate the museum, and may be further expanded.

The San Jose/East San Jose, Santa Monica/Ocean Park, Mills College, San Rafael, Beaumont, and El Centro libraries are examples of a new wing constructed as a separate building, attached to the original structure by a connecting element which serves to differentiate between the old and the new. In the first four, the connecting corridor also provides the entrance to the larger building, and in the first three the original but now unused entrance to the old building retains its original entrance facade.

At Beaumont and El Centro, incorporation of a new wing was accomplished by changing the character of the building. A Mansard roof now encircles both the old and new sections of the Beaumont building. After the El Centro library suffered severe earthquake damage in the late 1920's, reinforcement was added to the old building which was then plastered over and classical elements removed. The effect is modern, and a new modern wing was added, placed at an angle to the original. The form of the original Classical Revival building is discernible in the large recessed window, which was formerly the recessed entrance.

The case of South Pasadena raises the problem of the old building in relation to the new. Carnegie funded the 1916 addition but in two subsequent remodels and expansions, the old Carnegie was almost eliminated, and is incorporated in a newer building. South Pasadena does not consider its present building to be a Carnegie, and the remodeled building is a significant architectural asset in its own right, now itself part of an even newer building. If the revised and altered South Pasadena library is no longer perceived by the community to be a Carnegie, the question arises whether Eagle Rock, rebuilt on its old foundations, and Santa Barbara, remodeled several times, are still Carnegies. All three are here treated as extant. By contrast, Azusa provides an example of a library building being completely razed and then another building constructed on its site.

Letters in the Carnegie correspondence indicate that several cities later sought guidelines about the city's rights in regard to building alteration, disposal, or other use. Typical of the early Carnegie attitude was the reply to a 1922 Lakeport inquiry, that the building was given as a library and it would therefore be a breach of faith to use it for anything else. This policy was later relaxed, as illustrated by the response to their 1946 inquiry, that control and administration of the Lakeport Carnegie Library are, as you know, vested in the locally constituted authority of the community. Under the later philosophy, it was generally suggested that when a new library replaced a Carnegie a plaque should be affixed to the new building identifying the Carnegie history.

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