Help us celebrate 100 Years of Library Service
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ~ 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
100th Anniversary of the Grand Opening Dedication of St. Petersburg’s Mirror Lake Community Library
280 Fifth Street North ~ St. Petersburg, Florida
hosted by the St. Petersburg Library System and the City of St. Petersburg
Interest in providing reading material for the citizens of St. Petersburg began in 1899, when a group of volunteers opened a reading room on Central Avenue. A campaign to secure a Carnegie library grant began in 1908, but those leading the effort were unable to secure a sufficient donation until St. Petersburg Times owner W. L. Straub met personally with Carnegie officers late in 1913 and convinced them to offer a grant of $17,500.
The construction tract was awarded to W. C. Henry, and the cornerstone was laid on Dec. 19, 1914. The library opened on December 1, 1915 with 2,600 volumes. By 1947 the library’s collection had grown to 45,000 volumes, and the library was expanded with a new wing in 1951.
New libraries were added around the city in the years that followed, and the library at Mirror Lake was added to the National Registry of Historic Places on June 13, 1986. It had fallen into disrepair by this time, and the city began work to restore and expand the library. The restored library opened in May of 1997.
The Mirror Lake Community Library’s original building was designed by Henry Whitfield in the Beaux Arts architectural style, and the additions in 1951 and 1997 were designed in the same style. Of 14 total Carnegie libraries built in Florida from 1901 to 1917, Mirror Lake is one of only two still operating as a library.
Information provided by Linda C. Kinsey, APR, Information Specialist, Marketing, City of St. Petersburg
Join us for the next event in our Centennial Year author series, An Evening With…Bruce Stephenson, PhD, Professor of Environmental Studies at Rollins College. The event is held on the second floor of the Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street N, St. Petersburg. Seating will be available at 5 p.m., with the talk starting at 5:30 p.m.
Bruce Stephenson has worked as a public planner, consultant, and professor. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of regional planning, environmental protection, and urbanism. He has written three books, over forty editorials, and published articles in a range of professional journals.
Stephenson will be discussing his new book, “John Nolen, Landscape Architect and City Planner,” which informed his consultancy for the Winter Park SunRail Station and the Genius Preserve and earned the 1000 Friends of Florida Community Betterment Award.
Stephenson is best known locally for his book “Visions of Eden: Environmentalism, Urban Planning, and City Building in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1900-1995.” Since the turn of the century, the opportunity to design a city nestled in a subtropical garden has attracted the nation’s preeminent planners to St. Petersburg. The most ambitious plan was developed in 1923 by John Nolen, who believed that an interconnected system of preserves and parks would enhance the city’s development and attract tourists for generations. His initiative failed miserably at the polls, however, because it threatened the conflicting notion of paradise held by hundreds of investors, who were profiting from the greatest real estate boom in the nation’s history and feared that planning would curtail speculation. As Stephenson points out, a half century would pass until a series of ecological disasters in the 1970s finally compelled city officials to adopt an environmentally sound development plan that reflected Nolen’s original vision. Stephenson carefully explores St. Petersburg’s slow awakening to ecological responsibility – to the importance of designing a community that meets both human needs and economic demands. As the debate over the “New Urbanism” moves forward, this book will serve as a useful guide for those who will plan, build, and inhabit the cities of the twenty-first century.
Stephenson is a scholar for the Florida Humanities Council, contributing to its “Imagining a New Florida” documentary series. He is also the Principal Investigator for an EPA Sustainability Curriculum Grant, Sustainable Enterprise: Activating SunRail in Winter Park, Florida. The research team of Rollins instructors and students completed is informing projects to improve bicycle and pedestrian mobility in Orlando and Winter Park.