Ferndale Public Library
Ferndale Public Library
Ferndale's Classical Revival Carnegie Library
|Location||807 Main Street, Ferndale, California|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
|MPS||California Carnegie Libraries MPS|
|NRHP Reference #||90001815|
|Added to NRHP||December 10, 1990|
The Ferndale Public Library was built in 1909 as Carnegie Grant Library on donated land and supported by the city of Ferndale, California, until becoming part of the Humboldt County Library system in 1915. It is the only Carnegie Library in northwestern California still functioning as a Public Library.
The first free reading room in Ferndale opened 3 February 1896 on the ground floor of the Gilt Edge Building with books from the old town library and the Chapin library. The Ferndale Enterprise newspaper reported the hours of operation and added that "Smoking, loud talking, spitting on the floor, etc. will be strictly prohibited by the management," but by 12 February 1897 the reading room closed for lack of support.
Two years later, on 18 April 1906, Ferndale was struck by the Great San Francisco Earthquake. The Ferndale Enterprise reported that the Paine building was "twisted and the plate glass windows were demolished." The Gilt Edge building where the old reading room had been was so completely ruined by the earthquake that it had to be demolished in 1908.
The Carnegie Library
The city council corresponded with James Bertram, an assistant of Andrew Carnegie in 1908 to obtain the Carnegie Foundation Grant for $8,000 which was equal to ten times the amount the town would contribute per year to support it.
Architect Warren Skellings of Eureka, California, designed a one-story reinforced concrete building in Classical Revival style to fit on a 40 foot by 40 foot area, deeded to the town of Ferndale by Adam Putnam, and according to the deed of transfer "if not so used, then to revert to the grantor." Construction was awarded to Ackerman and Ackerman of Eureka for $7,775.40 on April 12, 1909. Furnishings were extra so the city of Ferndale agreed to loan the extra money.
The Paine building was leased by a showman for a movie theater, and in May 1909 the library temporarily moved into the Brelle Building, at Main and Shaw opposite the Knights of Pythias Castle, until the new library building was ready.
As new building neared completion, citizens questioned why the building bore the label "Ferndale Library" instead of "Carnegie Library". The Ferndale Enterprise of 5 November 1909 explained that it was "the express wish of Mr. Carnegie that his name should be omitted. Some of the first of the library buildings made possible by his generosity bore his name, but on later ones this has been left off by his desire," and added that an "unostentatious" tablet would be placed inside the building with a hope "that gentleman will perhaps not object to our people commemorating his name."
Construction dragged on while a wood-burning furnace and electrical fittings were shipped and installed; the city council became concerned because they were also paying for the rental on the temporary facility at the Brelle Building, but on 15 March 1910 new the library building was accepted as ready for occupancy.
The library formally opened 2 April 1910. By 1911 the Ferndale Village Club ladies had begun to plant the grounds and installed cement walkways, but a neighbor's cattle kept escaping onto the library grounds and eating the plantings. In 1912, cattle-proof concrete walls were built and library trustees were able to repay the town the $264.40 loaned during construction. In a sign of increasing regionalisation in Humboldt County, the Ferndale Library became a branch of the Humboldt County Library System in 1915.
The building has been continually maintained. An updated furnace was added in 1926 and, in 1977, a rear addition enlarged the original building to include a children's room, a bathroom and storage, but the style and original furnishings were retained.
The Eureka and Ferndale Public Libraries were the only two Carnegie Grant libraries in northwestern California, but only the Ferndale Library is still functioning as a public library with original bookcases and furniture.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Edeline, Denis (May 31, 1996). "Ferndale Notes: August 1893-December 31, 1931" (PDF). Transcriptions from the Ferndale Enterprise and the Book of Deeds at the Humboldt County Court House. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- Carlson, Beverly, editor; Ferndale Union High School; class of 1977 (1976). Where the ferns grew tall: An early history of Ferndale. Ferndale, California: Ferndale Union High School. p. 380. 0-7385-2890-0.
- Ferndale Museum (2004). Bess Carol; Beryl Newman; Ann Roberts, eds. Images of America: Ferndale. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 67. 0-7385-2890-0.
- Eifert, Larry (1975). Ferndale Today and Yesterday: being a brief history of Ferndale's past, a recount of its virtues today and containing maps and information for a self-guided tour to 86 sites of historic interest. Ferndale, California: Low Tide Lumber Company. p. 48.
- "U.S. Geological Survey Database". NEIC: Earthquake Search Results. USGS National Earthquake Information Center. Retrieved 2 February 2013.