Lakeport’s Carnegie Library Building, built in 1918, is surrounded by palm trees on the edge of California’s largest natural lake and is one of the Lake County’s most iconic landmarks. Built in the Classical Revival style, the Library has been well maintained over the decades, retaining its original construction and architectural details not only on the facade but also inside. The interior, wood trimmed window casings and most of the finely finished wooden bookcases and counters are original. According to the California Office of Historic Preservation the Lakeport Carnegie Library “maintains a high degree of integrity to its period of construction.”
One hundred and forty-four Carnegies were built in this state. Fifty seven have disappeared and an equal number suffer from remodeling that does not respect the original construction and time period. These figures come from The Carnegie Libraries of California organization. Our city is fortunate that over time community leaders have seen fit to preserve Lakeport’s Carnegie and to take steps to list it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
The dream of building a Lakeport Carnegie Library sprang from the Ladies’ Improvement Club which applied for an $8000 Carnegie grant in 1914. Architects were Ward & Blohme; builders were Hinds & Randolph. Total square footage for the two story structure is about 3000.
The building functioned as the city’s library until a new, larger one was built in 1985. Since then the Library was used by the University of California, Davis for lake research, and most recently it housed some of the city staff. Staff was moved to the City Hall, across the street, about a year ago, leaving the building unoccupied except for retired city records and equipment stored on the lower floor.
The Carnegie Library is and has always been owned by the City of Lakeport. It is, for the most part, unchanged from the original construction. It has been maintained in good order over the years, but currently is closed.