“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)

Julia Ideson Building

Julia Ideson Building Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, December 30, 2012
1. Julia Ideson Building Marker
Inscription.  Early efforts by Houston's Lyceum, local women's organizations and Andrew Carnegie's national foundation led to the 1904 Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library Building. Julia Bedford Ideson, hired in 1903, was the city's first librarian. Under her direction, the library's collection and services expanded until, by 1920, the 1904 building was too small. The city continued to use the building, known by the 1920s as the Houston Public Library, until 1926, when the new library building opened at this site.

Ideson and the library building committee worked throughout the 1920s to formulate a plan and program for the new structure, visiting other U.S. cities and accepting proposals from several noted architects. They chose Ralph Adams Cram and his Boston firm, Cram and Ferguson, for the project. Cram worked with local architects William Ward Watkin and Louis A. Glover, coordinating also with the city's architect, W.A. Dowdy. The Southwestern Construction Company served as the builder.

Noted for his design work throughout the Northeast, Cram chose the Spanish Renaissance Revival style for Houston's library. Details include tile
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roof, arched openings, cast stone window surrounds, finials lining the parapet wall, and ornate metalwork. The L-shaped building's materials are primarily brick, cast stone and limestone.

After more than 40 years as Houston's librarian, Ideson died in 1945. The city renamed the library six years later to honor her contributions to Houston's library program, as well as her involvement in numerous civic groups and professional associations.

Although the city's library facilities and services have continued to expand since the Ideson Building's construction in 1926, the structure continues to serve as a library and local landmark.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2003

Erected 2003 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13888.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1904.
Location. 29° 45.536′ N, 95° 22.142′ 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 (within shouting distance of this marker);
Houston Public Library Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans
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.
Houston City, Republic of Texas (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sam Houston Park (about 600 feet away); Site of the National Women's Conference (approx. 0.2 miles away); Alexander Hodge (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas William House (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.
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 744 times since then and 157 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. 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. 9, 2023