AKA: Carnegie Library, Santa Ana, CA

Structure Type: built works - social and civic buildings - libraries

Designers: Bither, Dennis and Farwell, Architects (firm); Blee and McNeil, Building Contractors (firm); Alfred S. Bither (architect); Oliver Perry Dennis (architect); Lyman Farwell (architect)

Dates: constructed 1903, demolished 1960

1 story

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West 3rd Street and North Sycamore Street
Downtown, Santa Ana, CA 92701

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North Sycamore Street between Fifth Street and Sixth Street;


This facility, originally financed in part through a $15,000 matching grant from Andrew Carnegie's philanthropy, operated as the main library in Santa Ana, CA, from 1903-1960; five different libraries dating back to 1878 served the Santa Ana area sequentially up until 1903. Some were operated by the local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

Building History

According to the web site, Carnegie Libraries of California.org, Santa Ana had a long history of establishing libraries, stretching well back into the 19th century. It stated: "Although Santa Ana incorporated in 1886, its library history began in 1878 with a subscription library and in 1886 with a WCTU library. These merged in 1887 and in 1891 the City of Santa Ana established a public library with the WCTU library as nucleus. These continuous and combined libraries occupied a total of five locations before Carnegie funding of $15,000 was obtained in 1902." (See Carnegie Libraries of California.org, "Santa Ana, Orange County," accessed 01/08/2019. This web site mistakenly referred to Alfred Bither as "Blither.")

In order for an applicant city or organization to receive a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to build a library, it needed to meet certain standards. The main two were that it had to purchase the real estate on which the library would operate, and, the group or city had to set aside enough money to maintain the facility once it was built. After some delay in locating a site, the citizens of Santa Ana located a spot at the corner of 5th and Sycamore Streets in 03/1902. The Los Angeles Timesreported: "The City Trustees have approved the property at the corner of Fifth and Sycamore streets as a site for the new Carngie library. Thus, apparently, the flurry is over. To place the library board directly under the new lae the City Attorney was instructed to draft an ordinance providing for the change and also the appointing of the new board by the president of the Board of City Trustees. It is expected that the City Attorney will have the ordinance ready at the next regular meeting of the trustees, so that no time may be lost." (See "Santa Ana Library Site Approved," Los Angeles Times, 03/26/1902, p. A6.)

Building Notes

This Mission Revival Style Carnegie Library was located next to the Elks Lodge on North Sycamore Street; the library was erected contemporaneously with the Superior Court of California, Orange County, Santa Ana Courthouse nearby. The town took pride in having a modern courthouse and library facilities in the Mission Revival Style.

Demolished in 1960.

PCAD id: 5239