University Branch History
In 1906, the first location of the University Branch opened in the University Pharmacy, which was at the entrance to the University of Washington. Several months later it moved to the nearby University M.E. Church.
In 1908, Andrew Carnegie donated $105,000 for three branch libraries in Seattle; one of them was in the University District. The same year, Watson and Cornelia Allen donated land for the branch at its current location.
After a design competition, architects W. Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Coté designed the two-level branch, which cost $38,935 to build. The branch began serving the public Aug. 6, 1910.
University Branch 2007 renovation
The Carnegie-funded University Branch, which was designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Joseph Coté, opened in 1910. The branch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been named a landmark building by Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board.
The renovated branch now has:
- updated book collection
- new seating and shelving
- more efficient circulation desk and work areas
- new computers
- study areas
- more electrical, communications and computer connections
- upgraded technology services and equipment
- improved ventilation
- repainted exterior
- Project type: Renovate existing branch
- Completion date: 2007
- Budget for capital costs: $1 million
- Total library program area: 8,140 square feet
- Computers: 21 (formerly 18)
- Artist: Dennis Evans
- Art budget: $16,813
- Library Board steward: Gilbert W. Anderson
- Architect: Hoshide Williams Architects
- Contractor: Biwell Construction Inc.
- October 2007: The renovated University Branch of The Seattle Public Library reopened Saturday, Oct. 13.
- January 2007: Construction began on the renovation of the University Branch of The Seattle Public Library.
- December 2006: The branch closed Dec. 2 for renovation.
- May 2006: Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board issued the Certificate of Approval for the interior renovation of the branch. Residents attended an open house to see the design.
- March 2005: The Seattle Public Library board of trustees selected Hoshide Williams Architects to design the branch renovation. An advisory panel that included University District residents evaluated proposals and interviewed architect finalists.
- February 2005: Patrons met architect finalists at a public reception.
- June 2004: Twelve architects answered the Library's call for architects to design the interior renovations to the University Branch.
- April 2004: The Library Board selected artist Dennis Evans of Seattle to create artwork for the Fremont, Green Lake, Queen Anne, University, and West Seattle branches.
- December 2001: Seattle's landmarks board voted to designate the University Branch as a landmark building.
University Branch 2016 Improvements
In mid-2016, we closed the University Branch for a 10-week exterior construction project. We improved drainage from the site and access to the branch.
The branch was closed July 25 through Aug. 7 while the back stairs and ramp were replaced.
- Widen back stairs
- Redo ramp leading to back entrance
- Add van-accessible ADA parking stall
- Redo side entry on north side of building that leads to meeting room
- Upgrade existing storm, water and sewer lines
- Resurface main entrance landing
- Replace two sets of front steps
- Add lighted handrails to ramps and steps
We promised to protect the public's investment in its buildings as part of the 2012 voter-approved Library levy. The University Branch improvements are part of our commitment to keeping Library buildings well-maintained, clean and comfortable for you.
- Approximately $425,000
- Source of funds:
- 2012 Library levy
- July 15, 2016: Holds pick-up location changes to Northeast Branch unless patrons have selected a different branch.
- July 24, 2016: Last day to check out materials at University Branch. Book drop closes at 3 p.m.
- July 25, 2016: University Branch closes.
- Aug. 8: Branch and book drop reopen; upgraded back stairs and ramp only entrance while the rest of the work is going on.
- Oct. 3, 2016: Exterior construction largely complete.
- December 2016: Lighted handrails installed on ramps and steps.