St. Louis County
The Lewis & Clark Branch Library, the only library building designed by architect Frederick Dunn, FAIA, was constructed in 1963. Once the pride of the County Library system, the building was fitted with stained glass windows by master artist Robert Harmon, and was constructed as part of a progressive mid-century building program which sought to re-envision libraries in the postwar era. Placed at the northern end of the library building’s main façade and echoed in smaller blocks of colored glassed embedded throughout the curtain wall and tiny hopper windows, Harmon’s design includes images of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the library’s namesakes, along with their Shoshone guide, Sacagawea and her baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Flora and fauna including a buffalo in sprint are interwoven with abstract patterns to complete a stunning composition. The building design is a very elegant response to functional requirements both in plan (a simple rectangle) and in elevation, with the brick walls extending upward to give a solid wall to display the perimeter book shelves and a clearstory window above providing ample daylight to the interior. These features make this building as fresh today as it was when it was first created and flexible to extend its life well into the future. The St. Louis County Library plans to demolish the Lewis & Clark Branch and replace it with a completely new structure. Our hope is that listing here will help persuade the Library Trustees to reconsider, adding a sensitive addition to meet the future needs of the Library’s patrons rather than demolishing this worthy mid-century St. Louis County Landmark.
Listed in 2014.
Update: After being published in several reports, magazines, and even the DOCOMOMO* WEBSITE, the Lewis & Clark Branch Library was completely demolished on 5-15-15. The Library WEBSITE shows the new building’s progress
*THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE DOCUMENTATION AND CONSERVATION OF BUILDINGS, SITES, AND NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE MODERN MOVEMENT.