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Summary for 4721 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1703400005 / Inv #

Historic Name: Columbia Branch Library Common Name:
Style: Colonial - Georgian Revival Neighborhood: Columbia City
Built By: Year Built: 1914
The Columbia Branch Library was built in 1914 with Carnegie funds. Architects W. Marbury Somervall and Harlan P. Thomas designed the library building. Local citizens contributed $2,500 towards the purchase of the site of the neighborhood library. Andrew Carnegie donated the cost of the building, $35,000, which included the cost of furniture and all fittings. The building has a one-room plan, with the adult book collection located on the north end, and the children’s collection on the south end. The rear wing contained a “story hour” room and the librarian’s workroom. The library had been previously located in the Columbia City Hall. Miss Laurentine Meissner was hired as the Columbia Branch librarian in September 1914 several months before the opening of the subject building. The subject building was the smallest of the Seattle branch libraries. W. Marbury Somervall, who studied architecture at Cornell, in moved to Seattle from Washington D.C. in 1906 to work on Saint James Catholic Cathedral with his partner Joseph S. Cote. The success of the cathedral led them to win several projects for the Seattle Library system in the Beaux Arts tradition of design competitions. They designed the entrance and terraces for the main downtown library and the first three branch libraries, Green Lake, West Seattle, and University. After Sommervall and Cotes partnership dissolved in 1910, Sommervall partnered with architect Harland P. Thomas to design the Queen Anne, Columbia and the Douglass-Truth branch libraries. Thomas also moved to Seattle in 1906, and in 1907 designed both the Chelsea Hotel on Queen Anne and Sorrento Hotel on First Hill. Much of Thomas’s work was completed in partnership with other architects, including the three branch libraries he designed with W. Marbury Somervall. In 1998 Seattle voters approved a 196.4 million dollar “Libraries for All” bond measure, which funded the 3.2 million dollar renovation of the Columbia Library completed in 2004. The 2004 renovation, designed by Cardwell Architects, consisted of a rear single story brick clad addition that added 5,595 square feet. Cardwell/Thomas & Associates, now Cardwell Architects, was selected in the late 1980s for the restoration of the Columbia, Green Lake and Queen Anne libraries.
This one story library building is of masonry construction and is supported by a concrete foundation. The building has a T-shaped plan and a side gable roof form. The building is clad in brick with faux stone terra cotta quoins, coping and trim. The fenestration consists of Palladian windows each with two 15-light casement sashes, and semi-circular multi-light windows above; the windows have simple brick surrounds each topped with a decorative scrollwork keysone. The building features faux chimneys on both gable ends. A bracketed projecting cornice with modillions and dentils runs the length of the front and rear elevations. The building originally had a projecting bay on the rear elevation, but no large windows as it originally overlook a municipal garbage dump located in Columbia Park. In 2003/04 a modern rear addition replaced the original bay; the addition has a flat roof and is clad in brick with large windows. The front elevation consists of central double doors with an unpedimented door surround with an entablature; a semi-circular window is located above the entablature. Two windows are located on either side of the double doors.

Detail for 4721 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1703400005 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Slate
Building Type: Education - Library Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Education
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Rainier Valley Citizen, The Citizen Christmas Annual, December 25, 1915
History Link Timeline: Columbia Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens on June 5, 1909. File No. 4042, by David Wilma 12/9/2002, posted on

Photo collection for 4721 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1703400005 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 12, 2004

Photo taken
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