Queen Anne Branch, The Seattle Public Library, opens on January 1, 1914.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2086

On January 1, 1914, the Queen Anne Branch, The Seattle Public Library, opens at 4th Avenue W and W Garfield Street with a collection of 5,000 volumes. The building was designed by Seattle architects Woodruff Marbury Somervell and Harlan Thomas in the late Tudor Revival style, and was constructed at a cost of $32,667 with a gift from the Carnegie Foundation along with $500 from The Seattle Times publisher and Queen Anne resident Alden J. Blethen (1845-1915). The City of Seattle paid $6,500 for the building site.

A significant feature of the branch from 1914 until the 1940s was a children's story room. In 1914, a distraught parent wrote to Miss Helen Watson, the first Child's Librarian:

"Dear Madam: Will you please stop John and Mary from getting any more books as we can't get anything out of them at all -- they won't go to bed at night and won't get up in the morning and won't do anything but read when they do get up" (Reinartz).

During World War I, the library's auditorium was used by citizen groups such as the Red Cross and the Home Guards for meetings to "win the war" (Reinartz). In 1918, all branches of the public library were closed due to the influenza epidemic. The library was rededicated in June 1989 after a major renovation and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.


Queen Anne: Community on the Hill ed. by Kay Frances Reinartz (Seattle: Queen Anne Historical Society, 1993), 105-106; Plaque on Queen Anne Branch Library, Seattle; "Queen Anne Branch History Summary, 1940," typescript, branch history file (Queen Anne Branch Library, Seattle).
Note: This essay was emended on November 26, 2013.

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