Motor City Libraries

Entrance to the DPL Rare Book Room

Part of Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America.
Or lost auto industry, in this case.

Some information from Carnegie Libraries in Michigan.
Other information from the DPL web site.

On the Rare Book Room (not a wine cellar) door are the names, and birth and death dates of famous printers. From the reverse of the Allen Stross card:

Black ebony doors incised in gold carry the names of renowned printers. The bronze fleur-de-lis grilles designed by the architect, Francis J. Keally, simulate the binding of a rare book. A collection of rare and historical landmarks in all fields of knowledge is housed in this room.

 Gratiot and Farmer, Detroit

This address seems to house a parking lot, but about 100 yards away (121 Gratiot) is the Skillman Branch Library, originally the Downtown Library. It houses the National Automotive History Collection, which might just be worth a second Detroit vacation.

Old Detroit public library Old Detroit public library Old Detroit public library

(L) Charming early chrome card, with unevenly divided back. Description on back:

The Detroit Public Library.-Situated at Gratiot Avenue and Farmer Street, was built in 1875 and contains 200,000 volumes. It is conducted by a board, appointed by the board of education.

(C) 1904 Rotograph tinted card.
(R) Very clear Rotograph card with superfluous glitter.
Italianate building that predates the Carnegie grants.

 5201 Woodward Avenue, Detroit

Detroit Public Library
Woodward Ave. showing Public Library and Art Institute, Detroit, Mich.

(L) Dated 1927-28-29, this Detroit Publishing 'Phostint' style postcard shows a romanticized view of the Library (or possibly a polluted one).

(R) 'From Aunt Eunice, in July 1942.'
The postcard is somewhat older than the date inscribed, showing the relationship of the Library to other sights on Woodward Avenue, one of Detroit's most famous thoroughfares.


Detroit Public Library Linen finish Detroit Public Library postcard

(L) Also features the Belcrest Apts., plus the GM Office Building looming in the background.
(R) Common linen finish view of the library from 1943, by Curt Teich.

The Detroit libraries (main library and six branches) received $750,000 of Carnegie monies. Initially the powers that be turned down the 'tainted' money.
I'm curious as to how the rest was spent.
With an opening date of March 21, 1921, the main library missed the Carnegie era by about 4 years. 1950 view of DPL 1950 view of DPL

(L) Colourpicture brand linen finish card.
(R) 1950 chrome finish view of the library.

These cards typlify the glory years of Detroit, and of its Beaux Arts library building. During these boom years, expansion began to be needed. Comparing the size of this building to the 1875 building, it is not much larger. 1921 was a year with many smaller auto manufacturers. South Bend (Studebaker) or Kenosha (Rambler, Nash) might also have been considered automotive centers. Still, there was a lack of foresight in the 1910s and early 1920s towards the future needs of the library.

Detroit Public Library, view from art museum Detroit Public Library post 1963
Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48202
Founded in 1865, the Library moved to this location in 1921. The handsome Italian Renaissance building, designed by Cass Gilbert, was greatly enlarged in 1963 by the addition of two wings. The Woodward Avenue entrance, with its arched loggia, faces the art museum, in the heart of the Cultural Center. (photo by Allen Stross)
Detroit Main Library, Cass Avenue Entrance
(between W. Kirby and Putnam)
Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Public Library, located in the Cultural Center, Provides comprehensive research and information services for individuals, business, industry, and labor in the Metropolitan Area. The new entrance features a brilliantly colored glass mosaic mural by Millard Sheets.
1964 Hiawatha Card of Detroit, by Dexter Press.
Enlargement

Branch No. 4 (John S. Gray Branch)

Architects of record: Malcomson and Higginbotham.

A 1914 document's information implies that this was not a Carnegie funded branch, but its OCR is spotty, at best.

Googling the library's address of 1117 Field Avenue shows that this building has been long abandoned and appears to be beyond saving. They didn't even bother boarding it up.

© 2010 - 2011 Judy Aulik
Divided from Michigan pages, 11 June 2010.
Updated 24 March 2011.
Carnegie Libraries of Michigan, A-F.
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