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From Eames & Young to Pruitt-Igoe

Chris Freeland
Chris Freeland
Chris FreelandAssociate University Librarian, Washington University Libraries at Washington University in St. Louis

A brief history of the Crunden Branch Library, part of the St. Louis Public Library system

From Eames & Young to Pruitt-Igoe

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From Eames & Young
to Pruitt-Igoe
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CRUNDEN BRANCH
LIBRARY
Chris Freeland
Associate University Librarian
Washington University
Libraries
Missouri Conference on
History
Springfield, Missouri
March 24, 2017
Overview
F.M. Crunden “Old” Crunden
Branch Library,
ca. 1909
“New” Crunden
Branch Library,
ca. 1960
From Eames & Young to Pruitt-Igoe
Pruitt-Igoe
Site
“New”
Crunden
“Old”
Crunden
About FM
Crunden
New York Public Library. https://dp.la/item/0c7ce1cd8ffd446181895a09bc453794
• Born in England, Sep 1, 1847
• Graduated from WashU,
1869 & 1872
• Principal of Jefferson &
Benton
schools, 1869-1872
• WashU Faculty, 1872-1876
• Named librarian of STL Public
School Library, 1876
• First librarian of STL Public
Library, established 1893-94
• First ALA President, 1889
• Hosted ALA @ World’s Fair,
1904
• Series of illnesses, 1905-1911
• Died in St. Louis, Oct 28,
1911
https://dp.la/item/36fc923d490f15542aacc58
“To attempt to keep pace
with rival cities without a
free library is like doing
business without the aid of
telegraph, telephone and
typewriter.” 1893, p21.

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From Eames & Young to Pruitt-Igoe

Editor's Notes

  1. Hosted ALA @ World’s Fair Hall of Congresses, now Ridgley Hall Missouri Building caught fire 2 weeks before close of Fair
  2. Death First breakdown on eve of European trip Cared for by his wife Mrs. Kate Edmundson Crunden @ St. Luke’s Hospital
  3. Crunden played a role in planning Carnegie $1M gift in 1901 Opened Sep 11, 1909 @ 14th & Cass Designed by Eames & Young in Beaux Arts style
  4. Served a diverse population Eastern European & Russian Jews Lived & worked nearby at factories This branch is in that part of the city which contains probably the poorest of the population. To the north & east reside the employees of the many factories in this district, to the immediate west the old German element and tot eh immediate south immigrants mainly from Russia & Poland. Many parents will not allow their children to “start library” for fear that harm will come to the books and they’ll have to pay damages.
  5. Community space in basement Polish Industrial Workers, Jewish Branch of the Socialist Party, United Defense League, Equal Suffrage League of STL & Boys Scouts of America Supported War efforts In 1918 branch held a dance to support ALA’s Library War Service Program; attendees donated a book or fee to supply reading materials to soldiers oversees WWII – space for draft boards & for sugar rationing
  6. Encroachment of Industry in 1953 Sold to Pulaski Savings & Loan Association in 1954
  7. Municipal bond issue in 1955 financed construction of 4 new branches, one of which was “New” Cruden @ 20th & Cass Site selected specifically to serve Pruitt-Igoe
  8. Dedicated Dec 19, 1959 Had hoped to open on Sep 11, 1959, 50 years after opening of “Old” Crunden, but had delays Patron base was very large 23 elementary schools & 100,000 residents, 25,000 from P-I-V Intentionally located by P-I, trustees invested in the neighborhood by “banking on the future and making their contribution to it.”
  9. Very popular with children Stocked with 10,000 books As many as 850 kids would be in library in the 2 hours after school; also a refuge at lunchtime for those who couldn’t afford lunch at St. Stansilaus Materials were in heavy circulation (look at shelves), central bindery woulnt’ take materials
  10. Provided social services – outreach to teens & Head Start Program
  11. Ellen Q Claus, branch manager “If I had to run a nice, quiet, conventional library I’d be bored to tears.” Colleagues complained about libraries becoming “dating bureaus” but Mrs. Claus embraced the idea, held record-listening parties & music ensembles in the auditorium “Shocking pink bookmobile with a loudspeaker blaring rock n roll & blues” stocked with useful materials – novels & magazines, but also DIY manuals, citizenship rights Irene Eveland – Childrens’ librarian Mrs. Margaret Pinkus – Ethical Society, book sales, Mrs. Frankie Ragland
  12. 1972 – first PI building imploded, all gone by 1977
  13. SLPL had dwindling resources Lower tax base because of movement to suburbs Shortened branch hours to 9-5:30MW & 9-5F Joan Collett Cut services Wanted to change budget to put more unique materials in each branch rather than practical materials No book budget in 1980 Closed April 1981