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 Texas : Architecture : Carnegie Libraries

THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY
AND THE PENNY POSTCARD

One cent stamp
by John Troesser
Recording the wonders of the new century, itís hard to imagine the number of people who collected these photographs of history. Itís also hard to imagine an era of two and three digit phone numbers and twice-daily mail delivery. The scribbled messages also reveal their popularity: "Couldnít find one of the Denton Courthouse, hope this will do."

"Hereís one from Beaumont, you now owe me two." The simple message "Please return favor", with nothing else except the address, shows that the sender was replying to a newspaper ad for an exchange of "views" from a distant city. So affordable and available, stores would notify customers by post ("Dear Miss, your dress is ready.") A street address wasnít necessary in a town where everyone knew your name (and your business). I once owned several letters addressed to Captain Ira Stover, New York City.

After Courthouses and City Halls, Carnegie Libraries were the most photographed buildings from this period, although it was nearly a three-way tie with asylums and sanitariums. (Where people were thought to go when they read too much.) In the twenties, all three lead categories were swept aside by Hotel postcards, possibly because they were free in the lobby and thereís always the desire to show off to the folks back home that you always stay in a hotel with indoor plumbing, even if itís just for the novelty of it.

Even today, most postcard dealers maintain a separate category for Carnegie Libraries. While every town had a City Hall, however humble, and every county seat a Courthouses, a library especially a Carnegie Library was a source of civic pride. Carnegie Libraries had to be applied for, which means at least one member of the community could write. Courthouses merely proved that your town had lawyers.
Visit Razed in Texas to see postcards of the following citiesí lost libraries:
  • Abilene Razed 1958
  • Corsicana Razed 1967
  • Dallas Razed, no date available
  • El Paso Razed 1968
  • Fort Worth Razed 1937
  • Houston Razed, no date available
  • San Antonio Razed 1929
  • Waco Razed no date available
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