Patrick Robinson
The historic West Seattle Library, located in the Admiral District at 2306 42nd S.W. has been approved to get some exterior upgrades to stairs, railings and lighting, plus some landscape improvements.

Historic West Seattle Library will get some exterior improvements

An application for proposed site and accessibility improvements at the West Seattle Library, http://www.spl.org/locations/west-seattle-branch/wst-about-the-branch SW. was approved yesterday at the meeting of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.

The Board approved this summary of proposed changes: "Replacement of exterior ramps and stairs, new handrails and guardrails, painting of exterior light fixtures and landscape improvements."

The library was renovated and reopened in 2004.

It was an 8 to 2 vote.

The Seattle Public Library site has the following information on the building.

ARCHITECTURE
The renovated West Seattle Branch opened Saturday, April 3, 2004. It is the seventh project completed under the 1998 voter- approved "Libraries for All" building program. (See the West Seattle Branch Building Fact Sheet.)

The renovation was designed by Snyder Hartung Kane Strauss Architects and built by W.G. Clark Construction Co.

The children's area is named for Library supporters and donors Anne and Langdon Simons. (See Donors to the West Seattle Branch: Named Spaces for more information.)

Artist Dennis Evans of Seattle created artwork for five of the Library's Carnegie branches, including the West Seattle Branch. He created a series of painted, mixed-media works titled "The Seven Liberal Arts," which denote the seven branches of knowledge. Each branch has two works from the series. One "reference painting" is similar in all five branches. The second work is unique to each branch. The unique work at the West Seattle Branch represents "Logic." The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs manages the Library's public art program.

HISTORY
In 1908, wealthy philanthropist Andrew Carnegie agreed to donate $35,000 to build a library in West Seattle. That same year, the Niesz family and other West Seattle residents donated land for the branch at 42nd Avenue Southwest and Southwest College Street.

The 9,460-square-foot branch, which was designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Coté, cost $38,344.48 and opened July 23, 1910. Two days later it began circulating books and became the first permanent branch building to open in Seattle.

Two main-floor reading areas flank the entry and lobby. The lack of a lower-level auditorium was an exception to typical Carnegie designs. Wings on either side of the building feature two sets of large operable vertical windows that allow natural light and fresh air to pour into the building.

Tall ceilings contribute to a sense of spaciousness and rich detailing and use of wood throughout the interior add to the warm, historic feel of the branch.

Early on, librarians advertised their services by posting lists of new books at the post office and hanging signs on the West Seattle Ferry.

The branch has a long history of working closely with schools and children. In 1918, owing to a shortage of teachers, the principal of the West Seattle School sent the eighth grade to the library for one period during the last three weeks of school. In 1949, when an earthquake destroyed the Lafayette School, the library took in the school's library books.

In 1984, Seattle voters approved a bond issue, in part to improve the Library's seven historic Carnegie-era branches. The West Seattle Branch was closed for renovations between February and October 1987.

The historic branch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a landmark building by Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board.

Thanks to Deb Barker-Shaw for the information on this story.

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