West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library reopens after renovations on October 24, 1987.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 9/26/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3964

On October 24, 1987, the West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library, reopens after an eight-month, $620,000 renovation. The work includes removal from skylights of black paint that had been applied during World War II as an air defense measure. As at the library's opening ceremony in 1910, the event includes remarks by the mayor and two musical numbers.

The West Seattle Branch was constructed in 1910 with a grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). The branch served the West Seattle community for 77 years, closing only for the influenza epidemic in 1918. In 1984, Seattle voters approved a $4 million bond issue for the renovation of Carnegie branch libraries throughout the city. Work on the branch began after it closed on February 19, 1987. Library users were directed to the High Point and Southwest branches, which expanded their hours to accommodate the increased use.

Architect Sean Robinson designed the facelift, which included a wheelchair ramp in the front. The skylights, painted black in 1942 against the threat of nighttime air raids, were restored. The composition shingle roof was removed in favor of imported slate. The entire building received a makeover at a cost of approximately $620,000.

Mayor Charles Royer told the audience at the dedication that the building was "very faithful to the history of the building. ... This great friend of West Seattle." Mime Tom Foolery and the Bob Rice Jazz Trio provided entertainment.


The following news clippings are held in the archives, West Seattle Branch, Seattle Public Library: David Schaefer, "Two Neighborhood Libraries Reopen," The Seattle Times, October 23, 1987; Dan Williams, "Memories Fill Library's Shelves," News-Herald, July 23, 1980; Clay Eals, "City Books Branch Bash," West Seattle Herald, October 21, 1987; Clay Eals, "New/Old Library Draws Crowd," West Seattle Herald, October 28, 1987; Marge Caskey, "Library's Restoration Nears End," West Seattle Herald, September 23, 1987.

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