Julia Ideson Library - Houston, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 29° 45.549 W 095° 22.142
15R E 270929 N 3294449
Quick Description: This 1926 Spanish Renaissance building was designed by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram, who also did Rice University. The exterior is detailed with carvings and reliefs showing Houston history. Inside are eight murals painted by female artists.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 10/22/2006 12:02:28 PM
Waymark Code: WMW29
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 42

Long Description:
For the only time in its history, Houston embraced city planning during the Progressive era of the early 1920's. It was during this time that a plan was developed for both a Civic Center and zoning ordinances. The plan for the Civic Center, sitting on the western edge of downtown, called for a campus-like setting for five buildings – a library, a post office, a criminal courts building, a new court house, and a combined city/county building. Ralph Adams Cram was commissioned to design the first building, the library. All of the buildings were planned to be in the same Spanish Renaissance style and sit on a quadrangle, with a reflecting basin in the center.

The library building was built in 1926. The three-story building was sheathed in brick and concrete. The exterior facade was detailed with carvings and reliefs representative of Houston and Texas history. The interior of the building was as richly decorated as the exterior, with extensive use of dark, heavy oak.

Houston's City Seal, with its plow and locomotive
When the Depression hit, all plans for the Civic Center, and even zoning, were dropped by the city. It was during this time that the federal Public Works Administration commissioned three female artists to paint the eight murals that decorate the interior of this building.

The exterior of the building hasn’t been altered since being built. The interior has only been modified by the addition of the murals in the 1930's, and the enclosure of the roof with the advent of air conditioning. The building was named for Julia Ideson, the city’s librarian from 1903-1945. A self-guiding tour, detailing the interior construction and the murals, can be obtained from the librarian in the History Room on the second floor.

Street address:
500 McKinney
Houston, TX USA

County / Borough / Parish: Harris County

Year listed: 1977

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1925-1949

Historic function: Library

Current function: Library

Privately owned?: no

Hours of operation: From: 9:00 AM To: 6:00 PM

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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