West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library, reopens after remodeling on April 3, 2004.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 5/28/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7318
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On April 3, 2004, the newly renovated West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library, reopens at 2306 42nd Avenue SW.  This is the seventh branch opened as part of "Libraries For All," a $196.4 million bond issue passed by Seattle voters in 1998.

The West Seattle Branch was designed by W. Marbury Somervell (1872-1939) and Joseph S. Coté and built in 1908 with funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  It was the first permanent branch library building to open in Seattle and the first Carnegie-funded branch built by the Seattle Public Library system.  The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was awarded landmark status by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board.

The renovation was designed by Snyder Hartung Kane Strauss Architects and cost $2,257,664.  The renovation architects designed the remodel to complement and preserve the building’s historic character.  The windows were removed and replaced with exact replicas.  Salvaged oak paneling was refinished and reused in a new meeting room.  The library’s basement was renovated, adding 1,300 square feet to the structure and bringing the total square footage to 8,970.  The renovation also included updated computer capacity, upgrades to the electrical, ventilation, and lighting systems, a more efficient layout, and an updated collection.  The main floor of the branch was replastered and repainted.

Beyond its function as a book repository, over the years the branch served as an important anchor in the West Seattle community.  It hosted home-front war-service work during World War I and housed an air-raid headquarters during World War II. 

During the Libraries For All renovation, the branch was closed for almost a year and a half.  Patrons, including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who lives six blocks from the branch, welcomed the reopening.

Sources: “Renewed Library Fills Up,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 1, 2004; Kathy Mulady, “West Seattle Library Closing,” Ibid., December 31, 2002; Tan Vinh, “Renovated W. Seattle Library Draws Crowd; Reopening Of Historic Branch Pleases Its Many Patrons,” The Seattle Times, April 4, 2004; HistoryLink.Org Online Encyclopedia of Washington History, “West Seattle branch, The Seattle Public Library,” (by David Wilma), http://www.historylink.org/, accessed May 18, 2005; “About The West Seattle Branch,” The Seattle Public Library website accessed May 16, 2005 (http://www.spl.org).

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