East and West Library Branches


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    The East and West Branch Libraries are Carnegie Libraries built in the style of Beaux Arts Classicism. Negotiations between Andrew Carnegie and the Evansville library committee began in 1909 with a petition to Carnegie for funding a west side library. Over a two year correspondence, the request was expanded to include a facility for Evansville’s growing “East End.” In January 1911, Carnegie agreed to give $50,000 for building two libraries. Land between Bayard Park and the Chandler Avenue School was purchased for the east side library from the school board with money raised by Bayard Park residents through popular subscription and by a generous contribution from one of Evansville’s own industrialists and benefactors, Major Albert Carl Rosencranz (1842–1920), owner of Vulcan Plow Works.

    Construction on both $25,000 buildings began in summer 1911 on plans prepared by Carnegie-approved architects Clifford Shopbell & Company of Evansville. The style of each building was a simplified version of Beaux Arts Classicism. The Shopbell interpretation featured a rectangular red brick structure, based on a foundation of dressed Indiana limestone and lavished with classically-inspired, cream-colored terra cotta ornamentation from Chicago.

    Both libraries were completed by the end of 1912 and dedicated on January 1, 1913. At the time of their opening they collectively held a total of 5,527 books. The twin branches were renovated and restored in 2003. Each sits in a park-like setting and has meeting rooms, public access computers, and adult and youth areas.

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