Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America

Free Public Library, Sacramento, Cal.
Carnegie Libraries Other Public Libraries Canadian Libraries
Wisconsin Richardson Romanesque College and University Libraries
Illinois Home College Carnegie Libraries
Indiana New York City Regional Architecture

There was no grand plan in the acquisition of these cards, unlike the Carnegie Library postcards.

They are simply those that appeal to me, and I am showing them in the hope that they will appeal as much to you.

Non-Carnegie Libraries

Most of my Wisconsin and Illinois library cards are on their non-Carnegie pages. For New York, Indiana, and Iowa, the collection just isn't large enough to break these states' libraries into separate categories. Ditto for my New England Libraries page, but some of those are also on this and the Richardson Romanesque page.


Not the first style in my heart, there are a lot more Gothic library buildings than I am sharing.

 Tyrrell Library, Beaumont, Texas

Still standing.

Verily, it was built as a church in 1903. I don't know how a congregation could outgrow this in 25 years.

First this served as the public library, then it became a historical/genealogical library, according to Texas Escapes. Where to categorize this card is a real dilemma, as it really fits neither public nor special exactly. Hence, the Gothic heading.

I've been to Beaumont, and must have thought that this was just another church.

 Hallowell, Maine (Hubbard Free Library)

Hallowell, ME Hallowell, ME

Who can resist an aluminum postcard?
Or even an aluminium postcard?

Apparently the aluminum card was mailed in a glassine envelope, as fourth class mail. This card was produced by Owens Bros.-- Hillson Co., of Boston.

The other, more ordinary card with an unevenly divided back, was made in Germany.

Hallowell, ME

Information from the Hubbard Free Library page on the Hallowell, Maine home page.
This is the oldest (1880) library building in Maine still serving its intended purpose. Architect Alexander C. Currier designed the Hallowell Social Library to resemble an English country church. (Why, I don't know.)
The Hubbard years began in 1893, when Thomas H. Hubbard donated money for its first addition. The second addition came from a Mrs. Eliza Lowell, who got no glory.

Art Deco and Moderne

Avoid everything that pertains to the plan and arrangement of the conventional American library building.
-William Poole, Librarian, 1879, as cited in Free to All.

These libraries reflect their era differently than do the Carnegie libraries, just as the standard Carnegie plan departed from the Richardsonian and the Gothic 'book halls.' However, there is a vibrant diversity in these buildings unseen in those built thirty years earlier.

 Pine Bluff, Arkansas

(L) Card by 'C.T. American Art' at its best. No postmark. No information on the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library website whether this building is still in use.
However, (R) it was doing right nice by the time in the 1950s that Dexter Press reprised the subject. Note the mini Statue of Liberty.
Less prominent are the parking meters, which might explain why there were no cars parked in front.

 Compton, California

Information from the back of the Columbia card:
Compton, California. Constructed and operated jointly by Los Angeles County and Compton, this beautiful modern structure is adequately stocked with books to serve the needs of the entire community. The new Los Angeles Court House now occupies site of old library.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

 Los Angeles, California

On the left-hand card, flanked by the Edison Building and the Engstrom Apartments (L) and the Mayflower Hotel (R), the Los Angeles Public Library is about 9 parts Deco: 1 part Southwestern. Deco influence is clearer on the 'Folkard' card on the right, which was mailed in 1948. Surprisingly, this building is still the central library, at 630 W. Fifth Street.

Alas, the lefthand buildings are gone, and the Mayflower Hotel is not clearly visible in the photo on the library's website.

The card, printed by the Western Publishing and Novelty Co., was mailed in 1939.

 Evansville, Indiana

The cartouches appear Egyptian, a favored influence on Art Deco design.

Evansville apparently has the best of all worlds with respect to libraries. The west side has a Carnegie building that can be seen on an Evansville postcard site which can be reached through the library site under 'Evansville Postcards.' The Deco building is the Evansville/Vanderburgh County library today. And the Willard Library is reputedly haunted. It certainly looks as if it could have been built for the Addams family.

 New Ulm, Minnesota

In use: 1930-1970. Still standing. Walter Mondale helped dedicate its replacement.

Even Deco architecture can be bleak and forbidding. (Walter Mondale, probably not as much.)

Hand coloring drastically improves the appeal of these Curt Teich cards.

 Concord, New Hampshire

Deco and New England don't seem like a natural combo to me.

 Toledo, Ohio

This is the New Library, according to the Tichnor Bros. of Boston (R). Curt Teich and the Toledo Post Card Co. bring you more info (L). '325 Michigan St., Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Public Library, founded in 1838, was Ohio's first free public library.'
I thought the Tichnor Bros. had conspired to place the flagpole in its location atop the roof, but I see the pole on the Curteichcolor card, too.

The library's frieze is rather restrained by Deco standards. Unfortunately, the strange angle of approach keeps the entrance somewhat obscured in the ca. 1945 linen-finish card. The later card, from the late 1950s, has a better view of the front.

 Sarasota, Florida

Florida is the heart of Deco architecture, and this 1945 Curt Teich linen finish postcard shows the library off to great advantage.

 Fort Worth, Texas

Deco, Texas style.

This is a massive looking repository, built of limestone and Texas Leuder stone in 1939, according to the E.C. Kropp card which was mailed in 1944.
Not that I trust E.C. Kropp for my geological needs.

Mid-Century Modern



There really is such a thing as a Googie library.
Dig the two-toned 1961 Galaxie.


Replaced. Now known as 122 Ocean Place.


I seem to remember this building from the flyover leading into the 1960s 'Jackie Gleason Show.' At least I hope that's why 'Melancholy Serenade' goes through my brain when I look at these linen-finish cards.


1969 Curt Teich card.



Mod/Sunoco station.

Demolished ca. 2002.

According to the card, the building was made of granite, Italian marble, and anodized aluminum; and for the comfort of its visitors, had a smoking lounge.

I think I could picture a tirade about that little bonus today.


Dayton (Dayton - Montgomery; now Dayton Metro Library)

This replaced a Romanesque building seen here and here. I don't know what happened to the two Carnegie buildings on the latter postcard.

This library was featured in the 25 June 2007 airing of History Detectives on PBS.


This style is fairly common in the Lone Star State. Unfortunately, postcards are scarcer.


This building replaced the city's Carnegie building which was razed in 1954.
I'm not certain it's an improvement, but they sure tried hard with the exterior. Blame Curt Teich for the 26 star flag. The late linen finish card was printed in 1956.

I don't know who the guy embedded in the black wall was. Sorry.


There aren't too many libraries in this eclectic style in Wisconsin.


This is today's Madison Public Library main location. Mid-Century architecture truly resounds with the city's attitude. This card dates from sometime after 1964.

Update: Plans are being made for a six-storey downtown library, and demolishing this building for a hotel. It just might be an improvement.
Its Sequoya Branch has also been recently replaced.

Regional influence


Mission architecture is reflected in these libraries.

Redlands, CA (A.K. Smiley Public Library)

Carlsbad, NM Municipal Library and Museum

Clayton, NM

Pasadena, CA

Oceanside, CA

Real photo card of Clayton, New Mexico's Public Library.
Published in Albuquerque, it appears to date from the '40s.
The Public Library of the City of Pasadena, California.
Building has some Federal influence seen in the windows and front entrance.
Card mailed in 1930.
City Hall and Public Library
Incredibly modern looking municipal building.

Albuquerque, NM

Las Cruces, NM

Woodland, CA

Albuquerque's public library appears on this 'C.T. Art-Colortone' card.
My copy has a 6/25/49 date pencilled on its back.
Thomas Branigan Memorial Library. Unusual card style. Library still in use.

Blackwell, OK

Spanish with a hint of Italianate.

 Florida Mission Variants


West Palm Beach

Curt Teich product. Has some Italianate touches.

 Prairie Style

Columbus, WisconsinRochelle, IllinoisIda Public Library
Belvidere, Illinois
Library still in use. Carnegie funding was used.Card was mailed from Clay Center, Nebraska, with overprinted 'Nebr.' 1-cent stamp. Building still in use: Belvidere has had only money to remodel efficiently.
Jefferson, WisconsinDetroit Lakes, MinnesotaHeavener, Oklahoma
Building apparently no longer in use, and may have been torn down. Slighly too vertical to be truly of the Prairie school. Maybe it's a Prairie school companion. Roof slightly more peaked than average Prairie-style library building.

Miscellaneous styles

Indianapolis, Indiana Anaconda, MT (Hearst Public Library) Enoch Pratt (Baltimore, Maryland)
Federal/Italianate/French Colonial?
Not only is the style unnamed, someone dolled the card up with glitter.
Classical Grecian
No, it wasn't founded by either of those Hearsts.
The library's web site has the scoop on this 1898 building, which is still in use.
(And red, if you're interested.)
Legend on card:
'This three story limestone building is located at Franklin and Cathedral Streets. It was completed in 1933 by the city of Baltimore and replaced an older one on Mulberry Street.
Enoch Pratt, who came to Baltimore from Massachusetts in 1831, was donor of the original building.'
Rochester, Minnesota Meridian, Texas Black Mountain, North Carolina
Color photo by Edward L. Dupuy; Asheville Post Card Co.
Card postmarked 1948 and sent to the same person as a different Lakeland card.
Vernacular/Alamo tribute Bungalow/Mountain vernacular
Quite attractive modern library that may date from the 1960s or 1970s.
Sebring, Florida
Library Hut
That is all.

© 2003-2013 Judy Aulik

Last updated 02 January 2013.

Impatient for more cards? I recently discovered Pat Sabin's postcard site. Among postcards of historical buildings she intersperses a fair amount of library postcards.