< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >
University Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens in the spring of 1906.
HistoryLink.org Essay 2998
: Printer-Friendly Format
In the spring of 1906, the University Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens on University Way (called the "Ave") and 42nd Street, even before the street is paved, as befits an erudite university community.
Within a year the institution moved across the alley from the southwest corner of the “Ave” and 42nd Street into the Methodist Church on Brooklyn Avenue. In August 1910, the library dedicated it own Carnegie endowment funded French Renaissance landmark, designed by architects W. Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Cote, at the northwest corner of 50th Street and 10th Avenue NE (Roosevelt Way).
The site was remote from both the University District’s commercial heart along the “Ave” and remote from the University Campus. As late as 1921 the branch librarian complained that it was “off the beaten track.” However, following the 1922 opening of Roosevelt High School, the library was regularly swarmed by students first searching for books on their namesake Theodore Roosevelt – probably an assignment – and then turning to subjects for school reports and debates. The branch was especially busy during the 1930s when the jobless had more time to read books.
Cornelia and Watson Allen, the philanthropic couple who donated the site, made their gift contingent on the inclusion of an auditorium in the new library. Through the years the structure’s spacious basement auditorium has served as a community center for meetings, lectures, films, and children’s programs. During the two world wars, the big room was used by the Red Cross, a Well-Baby Clinic, and for meetings of the Women’s Air Raid Wardens and the Camp Fire Guardians. It has recently (2001) been repainted and features a permanent exhibit on University District history.
Paul Dorpat, "Now & Then," The Seattle Times, Northwest Magazine, July 30, 2000.
Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay
Browse to Next Essay >
The Seattle Public Library |
Seattle Neighborhoods |
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You