1906: Seattle Central Library. Demolished in 1957.

Seattle Central Library
On the night of January 1, 1901, the Yesler Mansion burned taking most of the old library collection with it. The library records were salvaged, along with the 2,000 volumes of the children's collection. Other than those, though, practically the only books salvaged were the 5,000 that were out of circulation at the time. The library operated for a time out of Yesler's barn, which had survived, then moved to a building that had been left behind when the University of Washington had moved from downtown to its present campus.
  • By January 6, Andrew Carnegie had promised $200,000 to build a new Seattle library; he later added another $20,000 when this budget proved inadequate.
  • The new Carnegie library was to be built not far from the former university campus, occupying the entire block between 4th and 5th Avenues and between Madison and Spring Streets. The land was purchased for $100,000.
  • In August 1903, the city selected a design submitted by P. J. Weber of Chicago for a building to be constructed largely of sandstone.
  • Ground was broken in spring 1905 and the library was dedicated December 19, 1906.
  • The building was demolished in 1957.
  • Seattle Public Library
  • Central Library, 1906-1957
  • Seattle’s first Central Library, built in 1906, was magnificent
  • Photographs
The Architect
Peter Joseph Weber was born Cologne, Germany in 1863. He was educated at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg. In 1891 he arrived in Chicago and secured a position as assistant to Charles Atwood at the World's Columbian Exposition. He was subsequently hired by D.H. Burnham & Company... bla-bla-bla ...Peter Weber died in Evanston, Illinois, on August 21, 1923.

Peter Joseph Weber
architecht.png

1863 - 1923
The Building
1906

library_1906.jpg

Source
Number of ground level windows on the above image does not match the below photographs. Is it a photograph or a drawing?

1907
Seattle-Libray-1907.jpg

Source

c. 1910
Seattle-Libray-c1910.jpg

Source

1914
Seattle-Libray-1914.jpg

Seattle-Libray-1914-2.jpg

Seattle-Libray-1914-1.jpg

Source

Unknown Year
Seattle-Central-Libray.jpg

Source

Unknown Year
Carnagie_4thMadison_1928-unknown.jpg

Source
It looks like on the above image we have the front stairs removed. Other photographs do not have those three doors either.

1957
The Carnegie Library was demolished in 1957 and replaced by a newer building. This replacement was itself torn down in 2001.

library_demolition_1957.jpg

Source


KD: Good luck finding a single construction photograph. Could you please scroll up, and compare photographs dated with 1907 and 1914.
  • What do you think happened there?
  • Did they simply remove the dirt and did some legit updates to the structure, or excavated the surrounding areas to uncover the concrete surroundings?
  • Additional photographs
If there is anything else (pertaining to this building) you would like to share, please do.

Oh, and by the way, here's what they replaced the above building with. It existed until 2001.

Seattle-Central-Library22.jpg

And the building below is our current Seattle Central Library.

Seattle-Central-Library.jpg
 

Banta

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
196
Reaction score
493
Carnegie turns up over and over again in this tale of our stolen history. Not surprising I guess. In 100 years, they'll probably say the same thing about Bill Gates. Not sure who I mean by "they" ... let's be optimistic and say it's our descendants that finally sorted out this mess we call history.

Our Seattle photographer, Otis Frasch, has some pictures of this library:

70-public-library-seattle.jpg
The writing on this card does not match typical O.T. Frasch images, but the initials "OTF" appear in the lower right corner, and the man posed in front of the library strongly resembles the one posed in several other images (e.g. 179 - Logging in Washington).
70-public-library-seattle-inset.jpg

Source

Added the part about the man because it stood out to me while I've been going through all the photos on that site and thought it was serendipitous that KD posted about a location where he appeared.

Here's another one:

798-seattle-public-library.jpg

Source

So, I have no idea the dates on these. Frasch's labeling system is completely indiscernable, repeating numbers frequently (and lots of misspellings, "due to writing backwards" is the thinking by his descendants anyway). But, they clearly compare to the 1907 and 1914 pictures KD posted, as far as the groundlevel and staircase goes. I suspect that some of those pictures are part of the same series... but good luck figuring out who actually took them (and when probably). Frasch apparently had issues with "pirates" stealing his work, due to the lack of adequate copyright laws at the time, and even his family members that curate the site I'm linking to suspect that perhaps Otis himself helped himself to the work of others (he obviously did when claiming the supposed 1880/81 picture of the alleged original Occidental Hotel, as he didn't arrive in Seattle until around 1907).

I'm really starting to fall in love with Seattle here. Frankly, this site could be dedicated to the high weirdness surrounding that area only and it would probably keep us busy for the rest of our lives!
 
  • A Avatar
    Info

  • Alex12sb

    New member
    Joined
    Jan 29, 2021
    Messages
    11
    Reaction score
    20
    Seattle Central Library
    On the night of January 1, 1901, the Yesler Mansion burned taking most of the old library collection with it. The library records were salvaged, along with the 2,000 volumes of the children's collection. Other than those, though, practically the only books salvaged were the 5,000 that were out of circulation at the time. The library operated for a time out of Yesler's barn, which had survived, then moved to a building that had been left behind when the University of Washington had moved from downtown to its present campus.
    • By January 6, Andrew Carnegie had promised $200,000 to build a new Seattle library; he later added another $20,000 when this budget proved inadequate.
    • The new Carnegie library was to be built not far from the former university campus, occupying the entire block between 4th and 5th Avenues and between Madison and Spring Streets. The land was purchased for $100,000.
    • In August 1903, the city selected a design submitted by P. J. Weber of Chicago for a building to be constructed largely of sandstone.
    • Ground was broken in spring 1905 and the library was dedicated December 19, 1906.
    • The building was demolished in 1957.
    • Seattle Public Library
    • Central Library, 1906-1957
    • Seattle’s first Central Library, built in 1906, was magnificent
    • Photographs
    The Architect
    Peter Joseph Weber was born Cologne, Germany in 1863. He was educated at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg. In 1891 he arrived in Chicago and secured a position as assistant to Charles Atwood at the World's Columbian Exposition. He was subsequently hired by D.H. Burnham & Company... bla-bla-bla ...Peter Weber died in Evanston, Illinois, on August 21, 1923.

    Peter Joseph Weber
    View attachment 8573
    1863 - 1923
    The Building
    1906

    View attachment 8571
    Source
    Number of ground level windows on the above image does not match the below photographs. Is it a photograph or a drawing?
    It looks like on the above image we have the front stairs removed. Other photographs do not have those three doors either.

    1957
    The Carnegie Library was demolished in 1957 and replaced by a newer building. This replacement was itself torn down in 2001.



    KD: Good luck finding a single construction photograph. Could you please scroll up, and compare photographs dated with 1907 and 1914.
    • What do you think happened there?
    • Did they simply remove the dirt and did some legit updates to the structure, or excavated the surrounding areas to uncover the concrete surroundings?
    • Additional photographs
    If there is anything else (pertaining to this building) you would like to share, please do.

    Oh, and by the way, here's what they replaced the above building with.


    And the building below is our today's Seattle Central Library.

    Judging by the difference in ground levels in the photos of 1907 and 1914, this building was excavated. I wonder if the concrete road and tram tracks were also underground? or were they just built?
     

    jd755

    Active member
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2021
    Messages
    162
    Reaction score
    367
    Looks to me there was a 'library blueprint' that was repeated and adapted to what was available in the area. There is one stood less than a mile from me that looks very similar but has been bent into a corner clamp shape to fit into the site between the pre existing roads. Not as massive as the versions over there but essentially the same.
    I also reckon that the name Carnegie was the branding of the day and there was a team of architects or architects practices working on them.
    As for its modern replacements we really are living through an age of degradation.
     
    Last edited:
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2020
    Messages
    1,103
    Reaction score
    3,305
    Can you guys see if I simply overlooked a photograph of this Peter Joseph Weber.

    If he really died in 1923, and was as prominent as they say he was, there would have to be photographs of this dude.
     

    Banta

    Active member
    Joined
    Feb 4, 2021
    Messages
    196
    Reaction score
    493
    Can you guys see if I simply overlooked a photograph of this Peter Joseph Weber.

    If he really died in 1923, and was as prominent as they say he was, there would have to be photographs of this dude.
    Not finding anything. You can find pictures of gentleman named Peter Joseph Weber who lived before and after him, but none match up with his birth and death.

    I'd be interested to read this, but the online copy seems to be defunct:
    Maybe just a coincidence, but there are several architects with variations on his name. Including this guy:
    Edward Joseph Weber is, in many respects, the José Carreras of the early twentieth century Gothic Revival. You have Pavarotti, Domingo, and...the other guy, just as you have Cram, Goodhue, and...the other guy. Indeed, I would not have known of his existence had not he published two well-illustrated books on Catholic ecclesiology that often served as extremely thinly-veiled showcases of his work. (He seems to have had a hyperactive publicity machine, though I am not quite sure if it ever quite gained the traction he deserved. I know next to nothing of his actual biography, which says something already.)
    Oh those mysterious Webers...
     

    Right Arm

    Member
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2021
    Messages
    86
    Reaction score
    276
    I guess I should not be surprised with the involvement of the Yesler's as they seem to have their grubby fingers in all of Seattle's pies, local kingpins I think.
    Then Carnegie, who looks like the guy that colonel Sanders was based on, which should give us an idea that not all is well.
    Here is one from my home town:
    Bill Hates could learn a thing or two from him.

    As for the building, something is up, or may even be down( a level or two).

    The close up of the stones above look like they have been moulded or are concrete that has been shuttered.

    Also the pic with the rubble between the trees seems to have a higher ground level than the pic below with the wall around it, makes no sense to me!

    Why go to the bother of levelling the ground for a building yet not do so with the street in which the building resides.
     
    Last edited:
  • A Avatar
    Info

  • jd755

    Active member
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2021
    Messages
    162
    Reaction score
    367
    Can you guys see if I simply overlooked a photograph of this Peter Joseph Weber.

    If he really died in 1923, and was as prominent as they say he was, there would have to be photographs of this dude.
    Found one of his son Source

    2021-03-09 19.08.06 digital-libraries.artic.edu 9aa745928811.jpg
    Bertram A. Weber was born in Chicago in 1898, the second of three generations of Chicago architects. His study of liberal arts at Northwestern University was interrupted by WW I, and before he returned to school he took a job in his father’s architectural office (Peter J. Weber). Before organizing a partnership with Charles White in 1923 (White & Weber), he worked in the office of noted Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. After White’s death in 1936, Bertram practiced independently, specializing in residential and institutional buildings. In 1973 he was joined by his son, John, and the office was then renamed Weber & Weber. Bertram Weber was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1953. Major works include numerous hospitals, YMCAs, and other institutional buildings throughout the Midwest.
    Which led to one of Peter J Weber Source

    mqc_4684_large.jpg

    And a second one

    mqc_4746_large.jpg
     
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2020
    Messages
    1,103
    Reaction score
    3,305
    Wondering how they know that this specific person was Mr. Weber, to single him out like that.
    • That’s a strange looking building they have in the background. Doesn’t look proportionate at all.
    @jd755, that’s an interesting group of images you found there.

    Still wondering about the earthworks around the library. It appears they took a leveled area and turned it into a slope.
     

    jd755

    Active member
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2021
    Messages
    162
    Reaction score
    367
    My guess would be that the group shot has the names on the back, The only way to find out would be to have a look at the original in the collection of Peter J Webers papers.
    Still the library through the ages from that site using Seattle as the search term Source

    1905
    1905.jpg


    1908
    seattle_library_1908.jpg

    seattle_library_plans_1.jpg


    1923
    1923.jpg
     

    Banta

    Active member
    Joined
    Feb 4, 2021
    Messages
    196
    Reaction score
    493
    That’s a wonderful 1905 construction photograph you shared
    And indistinguishable from how a building that's having its facade redone would look. But that's crazy talk, of course.

    Then again, no crazier than building a new structure right next to a tree. I mean, the one on the right is touching it, for Chief Seattle's sake!

    Great work by jd in this thread. He's also given me another group of photographers to hunt down:
    Sorry, off-topic, but you guys need to see Lurch here on the right:

    default.jpg
     
    Last edited:
  • A Avatar
    Info

  • jd755

    Active member
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2021
    Messages
    162
    Reaction score
    367
    Either the narrative is cobblers or the photographs date is. I do wonder how just the one construction photo survived.
    The narrative states also that the reason for the later steps is the city was dithering over the regrade level of the street in front of the library. Your OP colour image is the architects drawing as far as I can tell.
    The 'big stick' on the roof in the construction photo is a crane jib.
     
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2020
    Messages
    1,103
    Reaction score
    3,305
    It says “new library” in the description. Per the narrative, there could be no new library in 1904.
    • I can’t find #63 on my phone.
     
  • A Avatar
    Info

  • Similar articles

    Top