Memorial Park Library
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This is Central Memorial Library. It is one of over 2500 Public Library buildings in North America that was financed by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It is also Alberta's first public library. The architects for the library were McLean and Wright of Boston. They modeled it on the Public Library in Attleboro, MA and the plans for both libraries are virtually identical. However, we’ll let you judge for yourself. You'll find a photo of the Attleboro library here. The library officially opened in 1912 with Alexander Calhoun as the first Chief Librarian. For the first three years, it hosted classes for the Calgary College. It also had a Natural History Museum and would later house the Glenbow and Muttart art galleries. Central Memorial was Calgary's only library until the 1950s and served as its main branch until 1963. In 1977 it was restored and renovated the library sits like a jewel at the east end of the park. Like nearby Lougheed House, it is built of sandstone. The structure is classical in design with a strong influence from the Beaux Art tradition. Its front entrance is flanked by ionic columns topped by an elaborately carved pediment. It also features balconies with iron railings and latticing on the second-story windows. The library is also significant for its copper roof, its Douglas fir floors, and its rich mahogany and birch trim.
Backstory and Context
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Hi I'm Bob van Wegen with the Calgary Heritage Initiative. The Calgary Women's Literary Club was founded in 1906 to start a campaign to build this library and, as you heard, the site for the library was chosen in 1908 in a referendum. But the site did have its critics. One critic of the location noted the wealth of many nearby residents and commented that they didn't need the library there because they could well afford to buy books for themselves.
pc_943 Post Cards from the Past Collection, Calgary Public Library
ch_2013-187, J Collinson, Century Homes Calgary 2013, Calgary Public Library