Image by Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County
We leap to the defense of the Junior Library whenever we can. It’s not just that we all have PLCH cards or that we have excellent friends on staff. It’s just one of the best municipal libraries anywhere in the world, and the city would be sadly diminished if it were just ordinary.
A string of lovely pictures of the penultimate PLCH main branch is floating around the ether, bringing with it a few misconceptions in the entry and the comments. The 1874 building was not the conversion of an opera house. It was purpose built as the main branch on the foundation of what was to have been an opera house. And the present main branch building dates from the mid-nineteen fifties, not the seventies. Stand on the southwest corner of 8th and Vine and look across Vine. What you see is architect Woody Garber’s original and, we think, brilliant replacement for the 1874 building. It was opened by our friend Bob Vitz’s father Carl, one of the truly great PLCH Librarians. The Garber design has been fiddled with. There used to be wonderful huge aluminum jalousies – big moving fins- shading the Huenefeld Room on the top SW corner. And the front door was inset under the cantilevered second floor. The 70’s addition was well meant but is ponderous and unlovely. It does hold a lot of books, though.
There was no way to save the 1874 building as anything other than an elegant but very outmoded filing cabinet. But it certainly was cool. Do notice the furniture that was chucked out. We have held onto ours, and we think we were right to do so.