National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County

National Register #96000105: Alden Branch of the Oakland Free Library

  National Register #96000105: Alden Branch of the Oakland Free Library
29 August 2012
(Click Photos to Zoom)

National Register #96000105
Alden Branch of the Oakland Free Library
AKA Temescal Branch of the Oakland Free Library
5205 Telegraph Avenue
Built 1918

The Alden Branch of the Oakland Free Library, which was renamed the Temescal Branch, was one of four architecturally similar but varied branches built under a 1914 grant to the city of Oakland.

Temescal was a working class, largely Italian neighborhood, settled by farmers, stonecutters from the nearby quarry and cemetery, and employees of the local Lusk Cannery, Oakland Scavenger Company, and Oakland Traction Company whose carbarn was on 47th Street.

An early placard in the library's files appealed to the Italian population:

La ALDEN RAMO LIBRERIA. Abbiamo libri in ITALIANO per tutti. Mettete il vostro nome in questo pezzo di carta, e andate alia Libreria potete avere uno libro.

In the years after World War I the Oakland schools and libraries were very conscious of their mission of "Americanization" to Oakland's large foreign-born population of many nationalities.

The neighborhood name Alden came from Solomon Alden, a farmer who settled on 600 acres in this upper Telegraph Avenue area in 1855. The name Temescal, which replaced Alden in popular usage by the end of the century, came from Temescal Creek which runs through the area. Temescal was the Ohlone Indian word for the sweathouses along its banks.

Adapted from the NRHP nomination.

The Alden, Golden Gate and 23rd Avenue branches were all designed by Charles W. Dickey and John J. Donovan. The three buildings had virtually identical plans but different period costumes. Alden was one of only two Tudor Revival Carnegie libraries built in California. The other, which was in Hollywood, no longer exists.

Escalating construction costs for the elaborate Spanish Colonial 23rd Avenue branch diverted funds from the Alden and Golden Gate branches, not yet begun. The relatively austere Tudor and Colonial styles chosen for Alden and Golden Gate apparently absorbed any economy measures with good grace.

Both the Alden and Golden Gate branches are virtually unchanged both inside and out and have continuously operated as libraries since their construction.

Excerpted from the NRHP nomination.

Carnegie Free Libraries in San Francisco
Chinatown, Golden Gate Valley, Mission, Noe Valley, Presidio, Richmond, Sunset

Carnegie Free Libraries in Oakland
23rd Avenue, Alden, Golden Gate, Melrose

Some Other Carnegie Free Libraries in California
Alameda, Bayliss, Biggs, Colusa, Corning, Eureka, Ferndale, Gilroy, Grass Valley, Gridley, Hanford, Healdsburg, Hollister, Lincoln. Livermore, Lompoc, Nevada City, Orland, Oroville, Oxnard, Paso Robles, Patterson, Petaluma, Riverbank, Roseville, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo Santa Cruz, Sonoma, South San Francisco, St. Helena, Turlock, Willits, Willows, Woodland, Yolo, Yreka

Some Other Carnegie Free Libraries in the West
Beaver, Utah; Coos Bay, Oregon; Medford, Oregon; Panguitch, Utah

For more information about these and other Carnegie Free Libraries, visit the website Carnegie Libraries of California.

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