“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Central Business District in Houston in Harris County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Houston Public Library

Houston Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, December 30, 2012
1. Houston Public Library Marker
Inscription.  Within 10 years of its founding in 1836, Houston was a bustling city. Throughout the 1840s, the city's professionals came together in debating societies to discuss a variety of topics. They created the Houston Circulating Library to provide reference materials for their debates. In 1854, they organized the Houston Lyceum. By 1857, the group, which was limited to white, dues-paying males, had almost 800 books in its collection. In 1887, 30 years later and with more than 2,400 books, the Lyceum opened its membership to women.

For the next several years, the women members proved to be persistent advocates for creating a public facility. By 1895, the Lyceum provided limited access to non-member adults of Houston. The following year, the library became available to local high school students. In 1899, Houston's city council appropriated money to maintain a free library. Mrs. W.E. Kendall and Mamie Gearing of the Houston Woman's Club wrote a letter to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who offered $50,000 for a building. Local organizations, including what had become the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library Association, as well as private
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citizens and businesses, raised money to purchase a site at the corner of McKinney Avenue and Travis Street. The city hired Martin and Moodie Company to design and build the new library, which opened on March 2, 1904 as the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library.

Under the direction of Julia Ideson, city librarian from 1903 to 1945, the library expanded its services to include several branches and a bookmobile. Ideson oversaw construction in 1926 of a larger central facility, later named in her honor. Her successors continued her work, providing one of the nation's largest cities with books and programs in a variety of locations and languages.
Erected 2004 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13093.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkEducation. In addition, it is included in the Carnegie Libraries series list. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1885.
Location. 29° 45.552′ N, 95° 22.135′ W. Marker is in Houston, Texas, in Harris County. It is in the Central Business District. Marker is on McKinney Street, 0.1 miles east of Bagby Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 McKinney Street, Houston TX 77002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker
Houston Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, December 30, 2012
2. Houston Public Library Marker
This is the older part of the library built in 1926 and renamed the Julia Ideson Building. There's a larger and more modern structure just west of this building. In the lower center of the picture you can see two markers. The one nearest the fence is the Houston Public Library marker. The one further away on the building is the Julia Ideson Building marker.
. Julia Ideson Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Houston City, Republic of Texas (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sam Houston Park (about 600 feet away); Site of the National Women's Conference (about 800 feet away); Thomas William House (about 800 feet away); Alexander Hodge (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ancient Order of Pilgrims (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sons of the Republic of Texas (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Houston.
Sidewalk in front of Houston Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, December 30, 2012
3. Sidewalk in front of Houston Public Library Marker
This inlay is in the sidewalk in front of the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on January 5, 2013, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. This page has been viewed 695 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 5, 2013, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 1, 2023