From APL to OPL
After decades of waiting, construction of the new Albertson Public Library began in October 1964. In May 1965, it was decided that the name of the new library would be the Orlando Public Library. Read a memo to staff regarding the library’s new name.
Dedication of the Orlando Public Library – Sunday, August 7, 1966
The Orlando Public Library at Ten North Rosalind was dedicated on Sunday afternoon, August 7, 1966. Mayor Robert S. Carr cut the ribbon and presented the building to the people of Orlando. The dedication, at 2 p.m., was followed by an open house hosted by members of the Friends of the Library with music provided by Doug Hill and a group from Orlando Local 389 of the American Federation of Musicians.
The West Orange Times reported:
“The short dedication ceremony was held at the front door of the Library. Rosalind Avenue between Central and Wall was roped off for the occasion. Master of Ceremonies was City Commissioner John B. Newsom.. Mayor Robert S. Carr formally presented the new building to the community… Following a dedicatory prayer by Dr. Henry A. Parker, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Orlando Mayor Carr cut the ribbon at the foot of the entrance ramp, and the building was opened to the public… Members of the Friends of the Library were hostesses at the Open House.”
The above photo is of the ribbon cutting ceremony at the dedication of the new Orlando Public Library on August 7, 1966. L-R: library board president C. Dewitt Miller, Mayor Bob Carr, library director Clara Wendel, Orlando City Commissioner John B. Newsom.
Two years in the making
Two years prior, in May 1964, the Albertson library was emptied and relocated to a temporary site at 905 North Orange Avenue. In September 1964, the old Albertson library was demolished and site preparation began for the construction of the new Orlando Public Library.
ABOVE: When this article was published in the Orlando Sentinel on
August 22, 1965, the library had not yet been renamed. READ the article.
Your New Library — Be Proud of It!
The August 6th Orlando Sentinel article “Your New Library — Be Proud of It!” announced the opening:
It’s beautiful! And it’s yours! The new Orlando Public Library, that is, at Ten North Rosalind Avenue, and it opens for business Monday morning, following a dedication ceremony and Open House Sunday afternoon. To which you, you, and you are invited… “Books are our business” is the motto of Director Clara Wendel and her staff of 100 full-time and part-time coworkers, and everything has been geared to develop this business for your enjoyment and pleasure — the more business the happier these folks are.
It continues to describe the new library’s interior space, resources and staff in vivid detail, including the “cave-like book delivery service elevator into which one just rolls the whole book truck with its load for other floors, [and] the concrete walls, interior supports and balconies, which convey the feeling of permanence and medieval strength.”
Orlando’s Library Opens
An editorial in the Orlando Evening Star on Monday, August 8th, under the banner “Orlando’s Library Opens,” speaks of the impressive $1.7 million library’s brutalist architecture.
To some the building is not an object of beauty — its concrete walls appear pitted, but that’s the way it was planned.
“It will grow on you,” said C. DeWitt Miller, president of the library board.
“It’s a landmark,” said James Deen, president of Florida’s architects group.
“It will make Orlando famous,” the Miami architect said after an inspection.
It lists all the architects, consultants, contractors, sub-contractors, building materials suppliers, landscapers, and suppliers of furnishings! In addition, the dedication booklet lists the Orlando City Council, Library Board, Orange County Commissioners and the County Library Advisory Committee members, and the Friends of the Library members who contributed to the purchase of the six-person listening station for the library. Lt. Colonel and Mrs. [Dorothy] H. Bascomb Melrose, in whose memory, the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity is named, are listed as contributors.
Special Edition of the Orlando Sentinel
The Orlando Sentinel published a special insert for the grand opening of the new Orlando Public Library for the Sunday, August 7, 1966 edition. The publication provides a detailed history of the library, the construction of the new building, décor, furnishings and special collections, like the art reproductions available for home use in the Fine Arts Department!
Photographs feature members of the library staff, library board, County Library Advisory Committee, City Council, Orlando Commissioners, Friends of the Library, including the Shader Brothers, Stan, Charlie and Ron, Robert Johnson, Mr. & Mrs. James MacMahon, Mrs. James G. Stokes, Miss Sunny Stokes, Mr. Irving Slott, Mrs. Relda Daniel, Mrs. Eileen Willis, Miss Eleanor Robinson, Commissioner John Newsom, Charles T. Brumback, William J. Capehart, Miss Mabelle O’Neal, C. DeWitt Miller, Miss Dorothy Skipper, Mrs. Hamilton Clark, Jr., Mrs. Richard G. Jolley, John B. Newsom, Claude R. Edwards, Mrs. Florence Fishback, Mrs. Richard Jolley, Mrs. J. Brian Wood, Mr. Bert Roper, Mrs. Ara Atherton, Mrs. H. Nelson Axton, Mrs. Anne Keeler, Mrs. Helen Watson, John B. Newsom, George A. Barker, Douglas Barnes, W. M. Sanderlin and Mayor Robert S. “Bob” Carr.
Peruse the special insert to the Orlando Sentinel for the grand opening of the Orlando Public Library on Sunday, August 7, 1966.
Layout of the new Library
The cutaway above from “Johansen’s Orlando Library” in the June 1967 Architectural Record, shows key interior details of the building layout, with the Children’s Library in the basement and staff lounge and mechanical building on top of the second floor. In addition to the Children’s Library, the basement also had staff work areas and an auditorium with retractable movie screen that could seat 200 people.
A floor by floor description of the new Orlando Public Library describes the departments, patron and staff areas, and even restroom locations on each floor, providing a guided tour of the building as it was on opening day.
View larger image.
Also from “Johansen’s Orlando Library” in the June 1967 Architectural Record, this floor plan shows the original location of various departments and materials on the first and second floors and the roof. The square “work” area on the west side of the building on the first floor was removed joining the 1966 and 1986 libraries. A detailed layout of the three floors (basement, first and second) shows the departments as they were on opening day.
A recently digitized B&W film that appears to have been used for an Instructional Television (ITV) program for Orange County Public Schools in the late 1960s, shows two African American children walking up the ramp entrance on Rosalind, visiting the Children’s Department in the basement, the Local History & Genealogy Department, and using the listening centers on the 2nd floor.
Aerial View circa 1982
The photograph below, taken from the Lake Eola side of Rosalind looking southwest, captures the Rosalind club (lower left), University Club, 1966 Library, Salvation Army Citadel, old Chamber of Commerce building with Mrs. Bennett’s house, the court house annex, the historic structures on Court between Pine and Central and several churches.
VIEW larger image.
The above photograph, also, provides a nice view of the staff lounge and patio on top of the 1966 building. It was accessible to staff only. It is no longer used as a staff lounge, but is still accessible from the 3rd floor of the expansion.
ABOVE: The staff patio situated on top of the 1966 library building. The staff lounge, now called the Patio Room, is to the
left in the photo from “Johansen’s Orlando Library” in the June 1967 Architectural Record.
The building’s interior design was inviting despite the Brutalist architecture and the nooks and corners encouraged exploration! The second floor was open in several areas to the first, and rounded doorways and tiny elevators for books added to the magical ambiance.
Above: Looking across second floor with first floor windows to the left and top.
Above: The rounded “Hobbitlike” doors to the staff workroom on the 2nd floor. To the left of the doors, the tiny elevator for transporting carts of books between the floors.
See more interior photographs below, under Images.
A Statement of Program for a New Main Building – Albertson Public Library
Three years before the jubilant grand opening of the new Orlando Public Library, Frank B. Sessa of the Dade County Library System was commissioned to report on the needs for the new Main library. He created an extensive document entitled, “A Statement of Program for a new Main Building, Albertson Public Library, Orlando, Florida.” The document traces the history of Orlando and the library from its founding to 1963. For history buffs and library fans, it is certainly worth the read. Due to the length, the document was scanned in three parts.
Chapter I: The Public Library
Chapter II: The Community: Its Background and Resources
Chapter III: The Albertson Public Library
Chapter IV: The Proposed New Building
Chapter V: Space Allocation and Equipment
Chapter VI: Branch Library Program
Chapter VII: A Check-List of Miscellaneous Details
Chapter VIII: Future Expansion of Proposed Building
Read more about the History of the Orange County Library System.
View additional images and documents – including magazine and newspaper articles, below.
A Statement of Program for a new Main Building, Albertson Public Library, Orlando, Florida by Frank B. Sessa, Miami, Florida 1963. Scanned in three parts; part one of three.
A Statement of Program for a new Main Building, Albertson Public Library, Orlando, Florida by Frank B. Sessa, Miami, Florida 1963. Scanned in three parts; part two of three.
A Statement of Program for a new Main Building, Albertson Public Library, Orlando, Florida by Frank B. Sessa, Miami, Florida 1963. Scanned in three parts; part three of three.
1966 Orlando Public Library information sheet provides floor by floor description of the departments and activities performed on each.
Brochure for the Dedication of the Orlando Public Library on August 7, 1966.
August 18, 1966, newspaper clipping on the opening of the new Orlando Public Library.
Orlando Sentinel, August 5th or 6th, 1966 (no page number), precedes the August 6, 1966 front page on the microfilm.
1966 Floor Plan
Evening Star Editorials, August 8, 1966, page 8A.
Reports the demolition of the Albertson Public Library and beginning of the new Orlando Public Library.
Reports the progress on the new building and completion date.
Reports the opening of the new Orlando Public Library.
Friends of the Library members who contributed to the purchase of the six-person listening station for the new library, including the parents of Mr. Ken Melrose.
Sunday, August 7, 1966, special insert to the Orlando Sentinel for the grand opening of the Orlando Public Library.
March 3, 1924 memo regarding the changing of the library name from Albertson Public Library to the Orlando Public Library, including the newspaper article that prompted the memo.
Fact Sheet on the construction of the 1966 library
January 1968 Florida Contractor and Builder featuring the new Orlando Public Library.
March 7, 1968 Engineering News Record featuring the new Orlando Public Library.
August 7, 1967 Florida Magazine featuring the new Orlando Public Library.