Yesler Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens on September 15, 1914.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/29/2000
  • Essay 2084

On September 15, 1914, the Yesler Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens at 23rd Avenue and Yesler Way. The branch is named for Henry Yesler (1810-1892) who provided the property for the city's first public library. The City of Seattle purchased the branch site as an exchange for the main library's original location at 1st Avenue and Yesler Way, which had been converted to a park. The building cost $40,000 and was the only branch built with city funds. (Other branches were built with gifts from the Carnegie Foundation).

The Italian Renaissance style building was covered with buff tapestry brick, terra cotta trimmings, and a roof of red mission brick. The collection began with 6,000 books and the building featured a 100-seat auditorium. From 1914 to 1921, the branch led all others in circulation. In 1918, it was closed for five weeks during the Influenza epidemic. For many years, the branch housed the Hebrew and Yiddish collection.

In 1975, the branch was renamed the Douglass-Truth Branch Library to house the African American collection.


Kathryn Harper, "Truth at the Crossroads," (an independent-study research project, Antioch University, Seattle, September 1999), 5; Seattle Public Library, "Douglass-Truth Community Study," January 1984, pp. 88-90; Seattle Public Library, "Seattle Public Library 50th Anniversary, April 1941," mimeographed program and scrapbook, Douglass-Truth Branch, The Seattle Public Library, Seattle.

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