Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Oak Ridge Public Library

One of the amenities the army provided in the Townsite area was a public library. It, too, was a wood-frame, temporary structure and was later torn down. The Ed Wescott photo above documents a book-mobile service the library offered to neighborhoods during the war. Note the wooden sidewalks.

The library was moved to the new Civic Center complex in 1970, located in an area that had become known as "downtown" on the Oak Ridge Turnpike across from the high school.

The library occupies the building to the right, while the building to the left contains an indoor pool, gymnasium, and game and meeting rooms. The park-like campus includes a bandstand where summer concerts are held, with attendees bringing lawn chairs or sitting on blankets on the ground.

Central to the park-like campus is this fountain and free-form sculpture. I'm not sure anyone has ever defined what the sculpture represents, but to most folks it looks mighty like a whale. The building of the library introduced me, and I think many Oak Ridgers, to the architectural term "clerestory." You can just see in this photograph the line of windows above the lower roof line, which provide light and a sense of openness to the interior of the library.


  1. I do love the old b/w photo! I have to admit, despite my love of books I'm always a bit shy in libraries, I can never find what I'm looking for. Jane x

  2. Lots of cathedrals and large churches have clerestory windows which light up the ornate ceilings. Love the old B/W photo.