The Smiley Brothers
Entering 'my' library is like stepping back in time and you almost feel as if you are in a home instead of a public library. There are beautiful works of art, carved wood moldings, fireplaces, stained glass windows, oriental rugs, soft lighting and books, lots of books. What follows is a brief history of the library and my attempt to capture how truly lovely it is through photographs. But first, a little history of the joint...
In December of 1891, several of Redlands prominent citizens joined together to secure a public library. Alfred Smiley, one of Redlands' winter residents from the East, became a prime mover in the crusade. After two years of effort, prodding the city trustees, and with detailed studies completed, a vote brought forth a public library in Redlands.
The A.K. Smiley Public Library was designed in Moorish style by T.R. Griffith. When completed, the Smiley featured walls of solid brick with hand-cut stone trimmings and a roof of heavy red tiling. Albert Smiley also furnished the entire building with desks, chairs, tables, and stacks-all fashioned from oak. Gargoyles, griffins, and other carving adorned the library interior. The stained-glass windows feature symbolism associated with learning and libraries. Unique in its architecture and an official point of historical interest on the National Register of Historic Places and a California State Landmark, the A.K. Smiley Public Library has been fortunate through the years to enjoy the support of many friends, especially its many patrons.
Before we go inside the library, I thought we'd take a look around the grounds. Smiley library sits on 16 acres which includes the Lincoln Memorial, the only museum dedicated solely to Abraham Lincoln this side of the Mississippi.
Here is the Lincoln Memorial (this deserves it's own post too.)
The charming homes that line the street surrounding the library.
The entrance to the library is always planted with pansies, as they were A. K. Smiley's favorite flower.
let's go inside...
let's go inside...
Gargoyles and Griffins are used throughout the library
The main Reference Library
A softly lit place to study
The Heritage Room
Where people like me can research their old homes.
I love the oriental carpets and stained glass windows used throughout.
More oriental carpets, beautiful lighting and a view of the garden.
Over 150 magazines and periodicals to read while sitting in wicker chairs and enjoying sunshine.
If only they served coffee and tea!
There are several of these little fireplace niches that were built to curl up with a book and warm your feet at the same time.
The children's wing - a replica of the main library...
complete with it's own stained-glass windows...
These two oil paintings by Dorothy Dowiatt (c. 1920) were donated by the family of Margaret Finch an avid Smiley supporter.
stacks of books...
that sit on huge slabs of white marble.
one of the outdoor reading gardens
It truly is a beautiful place that I am so fortunate to be able to enjoy.
I hope you were able to get a feel for the place and that you enjoyed the tour.
edited note: for my international friends, yes this library is free. with all the recent budgetary cuts due to the wretched economy the library has cut a few hours a week but remains open 7 days a week. generous patrons also keep new books flowing in and the redlands horticultural & improvement society help with the gardens.