Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering the City's First 2 Libraries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering the City's First 2 Libraries

Article excerpt


One was classic, restrained, sober, timeless.

The other: whimsical, bright, funky, fun.

But they have one thing in common. The buildings, both on Ocean Street, were both the city's main library for several decades each.

And now an opulent new Main Library off Hemming Plaza is scheduled to open in November.

The new library's predecessors were a study in contrast.

The Neo-Classical Revival-style Carnegie Library was the city's main library from June 1, 1905, to Nov. 28, 1965. The library at Adams and Ocean streets was designed by architect Henry Klutho after Andrew Carnegie offered $50,000 for a new library provided the city provide a site and appropriate at least $5,000 a year for library support.

Its design was Greek Ionic, typical of the many libraries funded by Carnegie across the country.

The Carnegie library's successor, on the other hand, was much more a design of its times. The Haydon Burns Library, which opened Nov. 28, 1965, features decorative green tile and distinctive concrete "fins" on the exterior. A critic at the time said of the library, "The ultramodern showplace is a symphony of color, texture and functional design."

The library was designed by local architect Taylor Hardwick and named for Haydon Burns, former mayor of Jacksonville (1949-65) and governor of Florida (1965-67).

Andrew Bachmann of Jacksonville, a vintage postcard collector, has several images of both former main libraries among his estimated 6,000 postcards.

Though the Carnegie Library, which today houses a law firm, is on the National Register of Historic Places, the fate of the Haydon Burns Library is up in the air.

The city is preparing to sell the property for $5 million to the Atkins Group, which plans to demolish the library and construct a high-rise complex of condominiums, stores, restaurants and a movie theater.

However, a struggle to save the Haydon Burns Library is intensifying. Preservationists say the building should be spared the wrecking ball because it is a unique piece of 1960s architecture. …

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