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OPL Under Construction 1964-1966

ABOVE: Photo taken December 1, 1965, looking southeast from the AT&T building on Wall Street. Notice how close the new library is to the former Salvation Army Citadel in the lower right corner of the photo. Also, visible is the former staff lounge called the “Patio Room,” on the roof on the left side of the photo.

NEW LIBRARY NEEDED

The beautiful 11,000 square foot Albertson Public Library opened to the public on November 8, 1923. While an impressive structure for a town of 10,000, Orlando’s amazing growth in the 1940s and 1950s made the 1923 building severely lacking for a population of 68,000 in 1954. As early as the 1940s, it was apparent that more space was needed and adequate heating and central air conditioning was a necessity.


The Albertson Public Library

Proposed Building Expansion Program

In the 1950s, several reports were presented on the state of the library and future needs. In February 1954, a proposal submitted by library director Clara Wendel describes the problems created by lack of space and estimates the square footage needed for proper operation of each department. She suggests that an expansion be built both to the left of and behind the library, utilizing the original building for children and young adults.

Statement of Clara Wendel, Library Director

In 1958, Ms. Wendel, presented a statement regarding the need for a new library enumerating 31 issues that needed to be addressed. Her proposal included recommendations by consultant John Hall Jacobs. While Jacobs likely never imagined the Brutalist style structure chosen for the new library, the structure fulfilled all 27 of the principals he listed.


The once beautiful Albertson Library showing its age.

Jaycee Report on Library Conditions

In January 1959, the Jaycee’s library subcommittee inspected the library building and published a list of 13 issues that needed to be addressed, along with their conclusions.

“We find that there is needed badly and as soon as possible a completely new modern library building several times the size of the present one, with most of the space on its street level floor and with ample room and strong enough foundation to expand both horizontally and vertically as future needs require.”


Staff reunion December 1963.

Staff Reunion

Library staff bid a fond adieu to the old Albertson with a staff reunion in December 1963. A scrapbook created from the event, includes photos and a humorous reminder of why the old building had to go. The reunion photo above shows the once open and airy reading room, now crowded with tables, rolling bookshelves due to lack of shelving, and the dictionary positioned on top of the window air conditioning unit.

1961-1964 Annual Report

The 1961-1964 Annual Report provides a timeline for the events leading to the construction of the library.

May 1962 – Successful bond issue election, allocated funds for a new library building. Additional property adjacent to the original site was acquired.

September 1962 – Dr. Frank B. Sessa, Director of the Miami Public Library, was engaged as a library building consultant to write a Statement of Program for the new building. The document traces the history of Orlando and the library from its founding to 1963.
Part one:  Public Library, Community, Albertson Public Library.
Part two:  Proposed New Building, Space Allocation and Equipment.
Part three:  Branch Library Program, Miscellaneous Details, Future Expansion.

March 1963 – Noted architect John M. Johansen of New Canaan, Connecticut was selected to design the building. His plans were formally accepted by the City Commission and the Library Board in June 1964.

March 1964 – The City employed Mr. Martin Van Buren of Charlotte, North Carolina to plan the interior design of the building.

May 7, 1964 – The library opened a temporary location at 905 North Orange Avenue, after a week of moving over 100,000 books and many tons of other material and equipment.

September 1964 – The contract for the construction of the new building was awarded to the H. L. Coble Construction Company of Orlando. The demolition of the old building and other structures on the site was completed before the end of the month.

October 19, 1964 – City, County, and Library officials turned the first spadesful of earth at groundbreaking ceremonies. Actual construction began soon after.


East and west elevations, Sheet A7. View additional plans under Documents, below.

ALBERTSON LIBRARY DEMOLISHED

In September 1964, the demolition of the 1923 Albertson Public Library building began. The photo below from November 3, 1964, shows the land cleared and leveled and ready for construction to begin. The photo also has great views of the side and back of the former Salvation Army Citadel, the Salvation Army Women’s Lodge, and the back of the old Chamber of Commerce building. These structures shared the block with the library until they were demolished in 1982 to make way for the library expansion that encompassed the entire block.

flyer created during construction of the Orlando Public Library provides information on the new building. Architect John M. Johansen designed the new library. The original estimated completion date was December 1965, but the library dedication was August 7, 1966.

Under Construction

With construction well underway by February 1965, the construction office can be seen clearly in the photo below perched above the east wall on Rosalind.

This May 1965 photograph, below, shows library director Clara Wendel and supervising architect Robert Murphy reviewing plans for the new library at the construction office located on the east side of the site.

Worked progressed quickly, and this photo below, from May 3, 1965, taken from Central Blvd. looking due north, shows the forms for the basement ceiling / first floor. The photo also shows just how close the new library was being built to the former Salvation Army Citadel.


ABOVE: May 3, 1965. Forms for the basement ceiling and first floor.

1964-1965 Annual Report – The New Building Nears Completion

The 1964-1965 Annual Report provides information on the status of the construction, and explains why the library name was changed from the Albertson to the Orlando Public Library.

1965-1966 Annual Report

According to the 1965-1966 Annual Report, the temporary location closed on July 23, 1966, and the staff and collections were moved into the new building. The grand opening and official dedication of the new Orlando Public Library took place on August 7, 1966.


ABOVE and BELOW: Aerial views of the Orlando Public Library circa 1980.


Identifiable structures in the photograph above : Rosalind Club (lower left); University Club across Central; old Salvation Army Citadel and Chamber of Commerce building on Central; Orthodox Church across Wall Street (lower right). Last but not least – Mrs. Bennett’s house on Wall Street.

Learn more about John M. Johansen.

Click on the first photo under IMAGES, click the right arrow > to watch the building rise from the empty lot to completion.

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ATTACHMENTS

East and West Elevations - Sheet A7

East and West Elevations from the floor plans for the new Orlando Public Library, dated October 7, 1964. Plans have note: Progress...

Label on floor plans for the new OPL - Sheet A7

From sheet East and West Elevations from the floor plans for the new Orlando Public Library, dated October 7, 1964. Plans have...

OPL Under Construction

Flyer created during the construction of the new Orlando Public Library.

November 3, 1964 - Looking Northwest

November 3, 1964. AT&T building, Greek Orthodox Church, Salvation Army Citadel and the Women's Lodge or Women's Emergency Home.

November 3, 1964 - Looking Southwest

November 3, 1964. Salvation Army Citadel, Chamber of Commerce, and the Salvation Army Women's Lodge or Women's Emergency Home.

February 2, 1965 - Looking Southeast

February 2, 1965 - Looking Southeast

March 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast

March 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast

March 1, 1965 - Looking West

March 1, 1965 - Looking West

April 1, 1965 - Looking Northeast

Greek Orthodox Church in the background. Pouring of the 1st floor.

May 3, 1965 - Clara Wendel and Robert Murphy

May 3,1965 - Library Director Clara Wendel and supervising architect Robert Murphy, reviewing plans from the construction office adjacent and above the...

May 3, 1965 - Looking Northeast

May 3, 1965 - Looking Northeast. Forms for the ceiling in the basement.

January 20, 2023 - Ceiling

January 20, 2023 - Ceiling created by forms above.

May 3, 1965 - Looking Southeast

May 3, 1965 - Looking Southeast

June 1, 1965 - Looking South West

Church spire on Jackson Street, Salvation Army Citadel and Chamber of Commerce in the background.

August 2, 1965 - Looking Southeast

Rosalind Club on the top left, Winn Dixie on the top right, Salvation Army Citadel and Salvation Army Women's Lodge or Women's...

September 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast

Rosalind Club on the top left, Winn Dixie on the top right, Salvation Army Citadel and Salvation Army Women's Lodge or Women's...

October 4, 1965 - Looking Southeast

October 4, 1965 - Looking Southeast. Taken from atop the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph, now the AT&T building at 45 Magnolia...

November 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast.

November 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast. Rosalind Club on the top left, Winn Dixie on the top right, Salvation Army Citadel and...

December 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast.

December 1, 1965 - Looking Southeast. Winn Dixie on the top right. Taken from atop the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph, now...

January 3, 1966 - Looking Southeast

January 3, 1966 - Looking Southeast. The background shows that the area had a more residential feel than it does today, with...

January 3, 1966 - Roof looking northwest

January 3, 1966 - Roof looking northwest. Structure on roof of the 1966 building.

February 1, 1966 - Second Floor looking Southeast

February 1, 1966 - Second Floor looking Southeast

January 3, 1966 - First Floor Looking North

January 3, 1966 - First Floor Looking North. The tiny book truck elevator is still in the Children's Department but the wall...

February 1, 1966 - First Floor Looking North Northeast

February 1, 1966 - First Floor Looking North Northeast. Now in the Children's Department, the 2nd floor overlook (now walled in with...

February 1, 1966 - Basement

February 1, 1966 - Basement. Part of the basement - staff work looking North.

March 19, 1966 - Looking Northeast

March 19, 1966 - Looking Northeast. March 19, 1966 - Looking Northeast

Aerial view of the OPL circa 1980

Aerial view of the OPL from Rosalind and Central looking northwest

Aerial view of the OPL circa 1980

Aerial view of the OPL from intersection of Wall and Rosalind looking Southwest.

Street view from Wall and Rosalind

Looking southwest from the intersection of Wall and Rosalind.

Staff on patio

The staff lounge area was on top of the second floor on the northeast side of the building. The room has windows...

The Patio Room

The staff lounge area was on top of the second floor on the northeast side of the building. The room has windows...

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There are currently no audio related to this memory.
Orlando Public Library Under Construction

Flyer containing pertinent information about the new Orlando Public Library under construction at the corner of Rosalind and Central in 1965.


Basement Floor Plan

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


First Floor Plan

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


Second Floor Plan

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


Main Roof Plan

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


East and West Elavations - Sheet A7

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


North and South Elevations

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


North and South Elevations and Windows

Floor plans for the first Orlando Public Library completed in 1966. Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


Sections - Cutaways

Original floorplans for the first Orlando Public Library. The plans indicate that they are not for construction use and do not have any of the many changes that were incorporated into the building.


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