Central Library nears its reopening, we are reminded that it is the heart of
the St. Louis Public Library system. But if it is the heart, then the
Branches are the veins that carry life-enriching materials and services to
St. Louisans in every corner of the city. Like Central, many Branches have
been around as long (or longer!) as the heartiest of our patrons. Their
names reflect not only Library history, but also St. Louis’ history. Some
honor individuals or families, while others pay tribute to the neighborhoods
- Baden—Named for the community it serves, which
was a separate municipality until becoming part of the City of St. Louis
in 1875. The original Baden Library was opened on July 23, 1928, in a
former mounted police substation at 8316 N. Broadway.
- Barr—Named after Mr. and Mrs. William Barr,
who donated the land in 1901. The Branch stands on the site of the Mount
Calvary Episcopal Church, which was demolished by the “great St. Louis
cyclone” on May 27, 1896.
- Buder—Originally opened in the Susan R. Buder
School in 1922. Mr. G. A. Buder, Sr. donated money for the furniture and
equipment as a memorial to his mother, an educator after whom the school
- Cabanne—Named for the neighborhood it serves,
which was named after early St. Louis settler,
Jean Pierre Cabanne. The Cabanne Library Association was instrumental in
the naming of the Branch.
- Carondelet—Also named after its neighborhood.
A bronze plaque designating Carondelet Branch as an historic site was
presented on September 20, 1981. The building is also listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
- Carpenter—Named for George O. Carpenter. In
1925, while president of the St. Louis Public Library Board, Carpenter
announced his plans to donate land for the new Branch. The Board
unanimously resolved to name it in his honor.
- Compton—Built in 1957, the Branch was named
for Charles H. Compton, who had been Assistant Librarian since 1921 and
was Head of the Library from 1938-1950.
- Divoll—Named as a tribute to Ira Divoll, who
founded the St. Louis Public School Library in 1865. This later became
the St. Louis Public Library. Divoll’s devotion to education led him
to become known as the “father of public libraries in St. Louis.”
- Julia Davis—Named after Dr. Julia Davis, a
prominent St. Louis educator and historian of more than 60 years. This
was the first time the St. Louis Public Library Board named a Branch
after a living person.
- Kingshighway—Opened in the Southwest Garden
Neighborhood in 1916, and was named
because Kingshighway was the most recognizable street near it. This
location replaced the old Fairmount Branch. Philip Rau had a “deposit
station” in his store at 5131 Shaw Avenue, and this small frame
building was used until the Fairmount sub-Branch opened in October 1916.
The sub-Branch became a full Branch in 1960.
- Machacek—Named for Charles Machacek, a piano
and violin teacher who bequeathed his
estate to the St. Louis Public Library for a Branch to perpetuate his
family’s name. The unusual design of the building took third place for
new construction in the 1974 City Beautification Awards.
- Schlafly—Formerly known as Lashly, this
location was named for Daniel and Adelaide
Schlafly, prominent St. Louisans who have been great supporters of St.
Louis Public Library for decades. The Branch is housed on the first
floor of the City of St. Louis’ Argyle parking garage. It opened on
January 7, 2001.
- Walnut Park—Named for the community it serves.
In 1969, the current site was accepted by area residents. A book brigade
of youngsters and adults moved 16,000 books from the old building at
5240 W. Florissant Avenue. to the current building on Sept. 23, 1972.
Our three mini-Branches have names inspired by their
mission, literary reference, or location. There is Central
Express, which serves as a convenient satellite
location to Central in the heart of downtown; Charing Cross, which is named for a section of London
famous for its book stores; and St. Louis Marketplace, which is
located in the St. Louis Marketplace shopping center.
So, what’s in a name? In the case of Library Branches,
much more than meets the eye.