West End branch library - Alameda CA
The Public Works Administration (PWA) funded the construction of the Free Public Library building on Santa Clara Street, near Webster, in the city of Alameda. The project cost a total of $32,826 and was completed in July 1936. There is a cornerstone with the date 1936 but not credit to the PWA (but there may be a plaque inside).
The building is reinforced concrete, designed to withstand earthquakes, and the design, by Carl Werner, is Renaissance Revival, which was quite popular in the early 20th century – though the red tile roof evokes Mission Revival architecture of the interwar period.
The interior design was well suited to a library. “In preparing the design for the new library building, much attention was devoted to acoustics… The Main Reading Room is well lighted both naturally and artificially; and as a result of intensive study, it is acoustically correct, an important consideration where library reading rooms are concerned.” (Short and Brown 1939).
There is a large wooden bas-relief sculpture over the main desk just inside the entrance, which appears to be New Deal era artwork, but is not.
The cornerstone calls the building the “Free Public Library”, the title over the entrance says, simply, “Public Library”, and the official name today (2021) is “West End Library” – one of three branches of the Alameda Free Library (the main library is at 1550 Oak Street).
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Short, C. W. and R. Stanley-Brown (1939). Public Buildings: Architecture Under the Public Works Administration, 1933 to 1939. United States Government Printing Office: Washington, DC.
Project originally submitted by Gray Brechin on September 30, 2011.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker, Joan Greer.
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