Shasta Memory Bank 7.10.2011

Redding’s Carnegie Library was built in 1902 at 1527 Yuba Street, on the west side of the Lorenz Hotel. Philanthropist and business man Andrew Carnegie donated money for libraries to be built throughout the world. Between the years 1889 and 1923, 1,681 Carnegie libraries were built in 1,412 U.S. communities. Redding was one of the lucky chosen. Yet years later, the City Council would vote to have it demolished instead of rehabilitated. The library was torn down in 1962. Bricks from the building were used in the outside walls of the present-day Redding Police Department and the City Council building.

Photo courtesy of Shasta Historical Society. Click on the image to enlarge it.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar rmv says:

    Thank you Shasta Historical Society for your hard work, and devoted love of what it took

    to remember how REDDING got to where it is today! It is very obvious SOME people don't

    care. (maybe why they demolished it? no palm trees!) 🙂

  2. Avatar Ron C. says:

    I remember that library. It was my second home. When I was a kid, my parents would drop me off. I felt like I owned the Dewey Decimal system. I would slide my hand across the books as I walked down an isle. The books were all mine. Section 639 Hunting, fishing, conservation, was to die for. I particularly recall on one occasion. There was a heavy rain. There was 2 feet of water on the street. My dad had to wade through it to get to me. I just wanted to stay over, but I gathered my books and we headed home to Cottonwood, then a significant trip. When I returned home after college, the library was gone. But the memories are still there. On the other hand, the new library is the cat's meow, except for the packs of teenagers and the noise they make while the "hook up." Melvil Dewey would just shake his head.

  3. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    I too, used to go to that library in the 50's and fully regret that it's gone. What a treasure it would have been much like old city hall on Market Street and a few other beauties like the Eaton Behren's house on Court St. Structures that have out lived their usefulness should be preserved and protected. The old Dobrosky house should also be moved and preserved just like the Women's Improvment Club house now on property at Hospital Lane.

    Once history is eliminated, it never returns except through memory and that fades.

  4. Avatar JeffG says:

    As a Redding native, I was surprised I'd never heard of this library before so I did a little more research:

    Wanting to "improve and beautify" the city, a group of ladies formed the Redding Women's Improvement Club in 1902. While most of its members were satisfied building water troughs, drinking fountains, and planting trees (including the Palms in the background that still survive today), one particularly ambitious lady took it upon herself to write philanthropist and retired steel magnate Andrew Carnegie asking him to fund a new library to replace the cramped 1896 Women's Christian Temperance Union reading room.

    As was the case with 2,504 of the 2,509 English-speaking Carnegie libraries, to qualify for a grant Redding had to meet the 4 prongs of the "Carnegie Formula:" demonstrate a need for the library, provide a site for the building, annually contribute at least 10% of the building's cost to maintain operations, and provide free service for all.

    Spurred by the Women's Improvement Club, the city passed a new tax for the library and purchased the site, a "veritable bog," next to the railroad. Carnegie came through with a $10,000 grant in 1903 while the club, in conjunction with the Lorenz Estate, prepared the grounds for construction. Matthew W. Herron designed and built the library, completing the project in 1904.

    The Redding Carnegie Library doors remained open until a 1949 merger with the county library transformed the building into administration offices. In 1962, despite having one of only 1,681 Carnegie Libraries built in the US, the Redding City Council opted to demolish the aging building on 1527 Yuba Street to make room for Library Park. Today only the bricks live on; they were reused in the construction of the Redding Police Department building on 1313 California Street (photo).

    The other seven Shasta-Cascade Carnegie Library Buildings are all still standing. For more information on them, check out

    • Avatar rmv says:

      thank you for those beautiful GREENISH/BROWN palm trees you planted JeffG. i can tell you are very proud of them. 🙂 🙂

      p.s. thank you for not planting anymore down HILLTOP DRIVE, i think we have MORE than enough there now! 🙂

    • Avatar Gamerjohn says:

      The free for all to use was important since in the South, libraries were segregated. Carnegie wanted Blacks as well as Whites to enjoy reading.

  5. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    I never knew about that one. What a shame to have lost it. In 1962, I was going to the library in Sebastopol, CA- also a Carnegie Library. The man did some good with his wealth!