Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America
California's Non-Carnegie Libraries
Los Angeles will have its own page.
Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art' card, mailed in 1927.
Bakersfield (Beale Memorial Library)
Built in 1900 in memory of General Edward Fitzgerald Beale. The library building (not the clock tower)
was destroyed in a 1952 earthquake, and not replaced until 1957.
(L) The card was mailed in 1906, with the comment to Cora, 'Just to let you know I am still with the living.'
(R) Edward H. Mitchell card, mailed in 1911.
Kern County Free Library.
This is the 1957 library, replaced in 1988. At the time the card was printed--sometime between 1957 and 1961--its
circulation lay between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 books per year, according to the publisher.
In the background is a bookdrop, and a lot of school buses.
Replaced the Carnegie building in 1929. Deco as all get out.
Pacific Novelty postcard. The blue sky was turned up to 11.
Now part of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.
This building was in use from 1951 to 1985: a former office for a lumber company which was moved to the location pictured, its fate is unknown.
The library itself has had issues. It was established in 1906, but the town disincorporated in 1915. The county had to establish
a branch in 1917. The collection bounced around for many years until the 1985 building was provided.
The Dexter Press product was printed for Don Mar Sales. Its date in uncertain, but the car in the background dates from the 1940s.
Carmel by the Sea (Harrison Memorial Library)
Built in 1928. Privately funded since
1992. Gee, it's only open 42 hours per week. Why might that be?
Seriously underexposed photo post card.
Replaced by the Yuba County Library in 1977. Because the original donor, John Q. Packard,
had wanted the property and library to be used in perpetuity, per Waymarking, it escaped demolition.
(L) This Cardinell-Vincent card is captioned 'On the Road of a Thousand Wonders.'
Apparently this refers to the Southern Pacific Railroad.
(R) An early Edward H. Mitchell card, mailed in 1909.
Even though the card is sepia toned, this Edward H. Mitchell card is newer than the card above.
Modesto (McHenry Public Library)
100 years old in 2012.
H.S. Crocker Co. card, mailed in 1964. Isn't it great? The style is similar to many motel postcards
of the late 1950s.
Palm Springs (Welwood Murray Memorial Library)
Still in use but as a private library, run by volunteers.
1945 linen finish card by Curt Teich.
|Private mailing card, sent 1902.
Amazing vignette of a cactus garden.
|1903 Detroit Publishing card,
mailed in 1910.
mailed in 1913.
|Closer view of the Romanesque library building.
Information on the older building from Waymarking.
1890 - 1927, served as a library; 1927 - 1933 as Patriotic Hall; demolished in 1954. Like so many
other California libraries, an earthquake--in this case, the 1933 Long Beach earthquake--sealed its fate.
|Mashower post card,
mailed in 1928.
|Tichnor Art Card, mailed in 1938,
showing the Sierra Madres
in the background.
|Unattributed photo postcard.
||MacFarlane-White Photo card, date unknown.
The 1927 building, designed by Myron Hunt, remains in use today. It has undergone a renovation, year unknown,
and is on the National Register of Historic Places, per the
library's web site.
Red Bluff (Kraft Memorial Public Library)
Land was donated in 1908 by Herbert Kraft's widow for the library. Notably, she stipulated that there
'shall be no restrictions of any kind, based on racial lines, color lines, or religion.'
Pretty darn progressive.
Merged with the
Tehama County Library in 1959.
In 1962, the combined library moved to a new building. It was supposed to get a new building in 1986. Unfortunately, it landed in a Safeway
Today the historic building holds an interior design house.
Redlands (A.K. Smiley Public Library)
Another California library in desperate financial straits.
Built in 1894; opened in 1898. Per the library site, the children's
library opened in 1920. It reached the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, but California took until 1990 to
designate it as a State Historic Landmark.
I can't even begin to guess its architectural style: there are Gothic elements, including a rose window, on one end. I see
Italianate, Moorish, and Romanesque traces also. Before the 1990 addition, it was 33,000 square feet, which seems low; the
expansion brought it to 43,000 square feet.
Replaced the Carnegie building in
1954. According to the back of the
It's interesting how old many of the cars are in this photograph. Two, near the right side, must date from the 1930s.
Rededicated as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Main Library
in 1990. Replaced after a 1997 joint venture between San Jose Public
Library and SJSU.
The card bears a pen date of 1973. Its photo was taken by Tom Tracy, and it's a Mike Roberts card.
Santa Paula (Blanchard Memorial Library)
Replaced. Unknown if this is still standing.
Sawtelle National Soldier's Home (Markham Hall)
Sawtelle is part of West Los Angeles today.
Built in 1906, Markham Hall housed a library that might have been open for public use, if the postcard caption is correct.
The tinted German card was mailed in 1909.
(L) The City of Ventura's history site is a tad murky, but the library was founded
in 1873. Earlier California architecture can be hard to date, but this just might be the first location.
The Albertype card dates from 1901-1907.
(R) Per correspondent Dave Combe, partially quoted:
This card features the 1921 E. P. Foster Library, which still exists and is open to the public, at 651 East Main in downtown Ventura.
In 1959, an addition was fronted onto that library. The old building is visible at the rear of the current library.
It serves as a storage space for back periodicals, the library history collection, and is used by the Friends of the Library to store and process
The Helen Power Wright Library, on the east side of the city of Ventura, closed in 2009.
This building replaced the Carnegie building, which was demolished in 1959.
A branch was added in 1968.
The Columbia Wholesale Supply postcard shows an impressive range of American automobiles parked in front of a Mid-Century Modern library. The little pink job is a Crosley sedan.
© 2011-2014 Judy Aulik
Uploaded 20 June 2011.
Updated 24 July 2014.