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1923 Edmonton Public Library


Edmonton Archives         A98-103

Jointly funded by the Andrew Carnegie Corporation of New York and the City of Edmonton, this grand French Renaissance structure with Italian detailing was for more than 40 years the main branch of the Edmonton Public Library. It overlooked the North Saskatchewan River valley from a perch just north of Macdonald Drive and west of 99th Street.

The Board commissioned local architects Herbert Alton Magoon and George Heath MacDonald to prepare plans for a reinforced concrete and steel fireproof building "costing not more than $150,000." Constructed of cream coloured terr-cotta clay brick and Bedford stone, the central entrances were flanked by four fluted Doric columns, topped with copper trim and red tile roofing. Interior finishes included Caen stone, terrazzo tile and marble.

The central portion of the main floor was crowned by a massive skylight measuring 65 feet by 24 feet, carried on Ionic columns. Large windows on all sides made for superb natural light penetration. The building even boasted a central vacuum system.

Poole Construction got the contract to erect the structure -- the first project for a new Edmonton company started by Ernest Poole, and which today has evolved to become the massive firm PCL. Work commenced in late 1922 and was completed the following summer.

The new building was officially opened on August 30th, 1923, amid much pomp and circumstance. Premier Herbert Greenfield and former Premier Alexander Rutherford both spoke at the ceremony.

A little more than 40 years later, Edmonton's grand house of books was deemed too small and construction began on a new library which opened September 30, 1967 and was called the Centennial. Poole Construction, the company that built the 1923 library, was selected to demolish it and that happened in 1969. Poole Construction then built the AGT Tower (now the Telus Tower) on the same site, beginning in 1970.

   (Text credit: Lawrence Herzog – Edmonton Real Estate Weekly – Sept 27, 2007)      

The Source

Photo Date:  
Photographer:  
Address:  MacDonald Drive
Built:  (Opened: 1923)
Demolished:  1968

Some Stories:

In 1957, when I was five years old & in Gr. 1, at Cromdale School, I would take the bus (#2, I think) downtown to this library on Saturdays. The children`s librarian knew who I was and helped me pick out books. I remember the Madeline books, by Ludwig Bemelmans. I went to this library until I moved, in 1960s.  Story Sent by: Katherine