Mirror Lake Library

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St. Petersburg Public Library
St. Pete Mirror Lake Library02.jpg
Mirror Lake Library is located in Florida
Mirror Lake Library
Mirror Lake Library is located in the US
Mirror Lake Library
Location St. Petersburg, Florida
Coordinates 27°46′29″N 82°38′26″W / 27.77472°N 82.64056°W / 27.77472; -82.64056Coordinates: 27°46′29″N 82°38′26″W / 27.77472°N 82.64056°W / 27.77472; -82.64056
Architectural style Beaux-arts
NRHP Reference # 86001259[1]
Added to NRHP June 13, 1986
PVBLIC LIBRARY inscribed over East entrance of the 1915 building
Interior of the 1915 building

The St. Petersburg Public Library (also known as the Mirror Lake Community Library or Carnegie Library) is a Carnegie library built in 1915 in Beaux-Arts style. It was one of 10 Florida Carnegie libraries to receive grants awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1901 to 1917.[2] Steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided funding for more than 3,000 Carnegie libraries in the United States, Canada, and Europe.[3] The library is significant to the city's history as the first permanent home of the public library system and embodies the transformation of the city in the second decade of the twentieth century from a pioneer village to a city with viable cultural institutions.[4]

When the city was awarded the $17,500 grant in 1913, it was the culmination of a five-year pursuit by Councilman Ralph Veillard, W.L. Straub, owner of the St. Petersburg Times, and Annie McCrae, who became the first secretary of the library. The grant was approved by the city, and the site on the banks of the city Reservoir (now Mirror Lake) was chosen on July 17, 1914.[5]

The Mirror Lake Community Library is built in the Beaux-Arts style, with sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, slightly overscaled details, bold sculptural supporting consoles, rich deep cornices, swags and sculptural enrichments. The Beaux- Arts style heavily influenced the architecture of the United States in the period from 1880 to 1920. The building's architect, Henry D. Whitfield worked for the Carnegie Corporation and designed this library, as well as many other Carnegie libraries in this style.[5]

The Junior League presented the city with their first Bookmobile in February 1949.[6]

On June 13, 1986, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Mirror Lake Community Library was St. Petersburg’s only library until the current Main library was built at 3745 9th Avenue in 1964.[7][8]


In the 1980s, the Mirror Lake Community Library fell into a state of extreme disrepair. A faulty air conditioning system, water damage and mold plagued the building. The second floor was accessible only by a small, winding staircase; the main entrance was sealed. The city commissioned a study to determine if the building was fit to continue being used as a library.[9]

In 1987, a plan to restore the library was approved by the City Council. A wing added in 1951 would be removed, and a new wing would be built in its place, and the 1915 building would be restored.[10]

The restoration was delayed by the discovery of unexpected structural damage and wrangling over the city budget; on January 18, 1994 then-mayor David Fischer cut the ribbon to reopen the refurbished 1915 wing of the library. The elevator was not yet installed at this point, and handicap access was still an issue because the ground floor entrance and the 1951 wing were closed.[11]

In 1997, the project was completed and library was expanded with an 8,000 square-foot addition designed to blend harmoniously with the historic exterior and an elevator to make all levels handicap accessible. It reopened with the added wing on May 21, 1997.[12]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Jones, Theodore (1997). Carnegie Libraries Across America. New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471144223. 
  3. ^ Bobinski, George (1969). Carnegie Libraries: Their History and Impact on American Public Library Development. American Library Association. ISBN 0-8389-0022-4. 
  4. ^ St. Petersburg. "Mirror Lake Library". Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Finley, M.W. (2015, November 12)"
  6. ^ Fuller, W.P. (1972). St. Petersburg and its people. Florida: Great Outdoors Publishing Co.
  7. ^ "Benbow, C. 1986, pp. 1 (1986, January 1)"
  8. ^ Can Mirror Lake Community Library Be Restored? 100,000 Will Tell. St. Petersburg Times, pp. 1-D, 2-D.
  9. ^ name="Benbow, C. 1986, pp. 1"
  10. ^ Brown, D. (1987, November 13). Mirror Lake Library Gets Approval for Restoration. St. Petersburg Times, pp. 3-D.
  11. ^ Williamson, E. (1994, January 10). Event to Mark Library’s Inner Renewal Series: CHECK IT OUT. St. Petersburg Times, pp. 3-D.
  12. ^ Facilities showcase. (Cover story). (1998). American Libraries, 29(4), 66.

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