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 —
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
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 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.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Notable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Carnegie Libraries series list.
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. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 659 Fourteenth Street, Oakland CA 94612, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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 Lafayette Square Timeline (approx. 0.2 miles away); Chabot Observatory (approx. 0.2 miles 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). Touch for a list and map 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
Credits. This page was last revised on August 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 6, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 2,162 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 6, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. 4. submitted on May 7, 2009. 5. submitted on May 6, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. 6. submitted on November 1, 2015, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.