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Oakland in Alameda County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Charles S. Greene Library

African-American Museum and Library at Oakland

 

—Oakland Landmark Number 48 —

 
Charles S. Greene Library Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 26, 2009
1. Charles S. Greene Library Marker
Inscription. Dedicated in 1902 as the Oakland Public Library, this was the first Carnegie Library built in Oakland. Designed in the American Beaux Arts style by architects Bliss and Faville (who later designed the Hotel Oakland), it was Oakland's main library until 1951.

Oakland had outgrown its first public library, a wooden structure built in 1878 on the site of today's City Hall. Charles S. Greene, City Librarian from 1889 tp 1926, began a campaign to construct a new one. Andrew Carnegie's foundation offered $50,000 if the city would provide a site and $4,000 per year to maintain the library. The Ebell Society, a women's organization, raised $20,000 to purchase land and later engaged Coxhead and Coxhead to design a Children's Room.

The elegant exterior of tan brick and terra cotta is incised with the names of authors and disciplines and "Oakland Public Library." "Free to All" is inscribed above the main entrance. The interior exhibits elaborate oak paneling, classical columns and ornamented plaster ceilings. The second floor, with its coffered, barrel-vaulted ceilings, supported by massive columns, is one of Oakland's most imposing interior spaces.

Following the opening of the 1951 main library at Fourteenth and Oak Streets, this building served as a branch library, renamed for Greene, then as city offices until
Library Entrance Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 26, 2009
2. Library Entrance
Shakespeare is given pride of place above the entrance, and "Free to All" is inscribed on the ribbon above the three books directly above the door.
it was abandoned after the 1989 earthquake. Following extensive restoration, it reopened in 2002 as the new home of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. It became an Oakland City Landmark in 1981 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
 
Erected by Oakland Heritage Alliance. (Marker Number 48.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Carnegie Libraries marker series.
 
Location. 37° 48.374′ N, 122° 16.58′ W. Marker is in Oakland, California, in Alameda County. Marker is at the intersection of Fourteenth Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, on the left when traveling west on Fourteenth Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 659 Fourteenth Street, Oakland CA 94612, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Unitarian Church of Oakland (within shouting distance of this marker); Preservation Park (within shouting distance of this marker); The Pardee House (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lafayette Square Timeline (approx. 0.2 miles away); Chabot Observatory (approx. 0.2 miles
Terra Cotta Detail Above Entrance Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 26, 2009
3. Terra Cotta Detail Above Entrance
away); Oakland City Hall (approx. ¼ mile away); 1946 General Strike (approx. 0.3 miles away); Latham Memorial Fountain Unveiled (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Oakland.
 
More about this marker. The marker is to the immediate right of the main entrance.
 
Regarding Charles S. Greene Library.

The Oakland Library System's history of the African-American Museum and Library:

In 1946 Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay and Jessie and Dr. Marcella Ford began collecting the oral histories and artifacts that documented the activities of African Americans in and around Oakland, the Bay Area and California. In 1965 the organization officially became the East Bay Negro Historical Society (EBNHS). As their efforts continued, the founders needed to find a larger outlet.... In 1970, the EBNHS moved to a storefront located at 3651 Grove Street. In 1976 it moved to 4519 Grove where it operated a museum and library....In 1988, the organization changed its name to the Northern California Center for Afro-American History & Life (NCCAAHL). In 1994, the City of Oakland and the NCCAAHL merged to create the African
Patrons at the Check-out Desk of the Oakland Free Library, 1904 Photo, Click for full size
Photo Courtesy of the Oakland History Room , Oakland Public Library, circa 1904
4. Patrons at the Check-out Desk of the Oakland Free Library, 1904
American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO). This unique public/private partnership entered a historic juncture with the opening of AAMLO in February 2002. Located at 659 14th Street, AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene library, an historic Carnegie building.
 
Also see . . .
1. Carnegie Libaries of California. The California Libraries of California website with histories of the various individual Carnegie Libraries within the state, including the Greene Library in Oakland. (Submitted on May 6, 2009.) 

2. African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO). The Oakland Library System's description of AAMLO, including a general description of its holdings and history. (Submitted on May 6, 2009.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansNotable Buildings
 
Formerly the Charles S. Greene Library, Now the African-American Museum and Library Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 26, 2009
5. Formerly the Charles S. Greene Library, Now the African-American Museum and Library
The Charles S. Greene Library was designed by San Francisco architects Walter Bliss and William Faville, and constructed by A.E. Barret of San Francisco. In addition to having designed the Charles S. Greene Library and the Hotel Oakland (as mentioned on the marker), Bliss and Saville also designed a number of other well known buildings, such as the Geary Theatre and the St.Francis Hotel in San Francisco.
<i>Public Library, Oakland, California</i> Photo, Click for full size
circa 1910
6. Public Library, Oakland, California
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,909 times since then and 127 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   4. submitted on .   5. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   6. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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