Davenport aldermen on Wednesday advanced a proposal to classify the city’s downtown public library as a local historic landmark, an early step in a process that would add the building to the city’s list of historic and protected buildings.
Built in 1968, the downtown branch is the oldest of the city’s three public libraries. It was designed by esteemed architect Edward Durell Stone, whose building style is credited among architectural scholars as being influential on the New Formalist design that emerged during the 1960s.
In a petition for the historic designation, the architectural features such as the library’s tall glass windows, columns and a terrazzo staircase that leads to the second floor as unique attributes. The library is also compared to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., another building designed by Stone.
A public hearing on the matter was held Wednesday in City Hall during committee of the whole. The item received little attention aside from that of Alderwoman Marion Meginnis, 3rd Ward, who commended the library’s leaders for bringing the process forward. She attributed the city’s population growth in the downtown area in part to some of the historic preservation and redevelopment efforts that have sprouted in recent years.
“(The) city hasn’t always honestly been a leader in this -- it’s been developers who’ve done a lot of it, and in this case this was the library recognizing they had a beautiful, iconic building ,an international designer, and really wanting to step forward in this process,” she said.
The matter comes to the city with a recommendation for approval by Davenport’s Historic Preservation Commission, which voted last month to advance the matter to City Hall. During a commission hearing, Amy Groskopf, the director of the city’s public libraries, briefly described the building’s connection to the famous architect and its unique attributes.
“We just feel it deserves the recognition,” Groskopf told commissioners, noting that the library’s board of trustees was also supportive of the proposal.
If approved, the downtown library will join nearly 60 other properties listed on the city’s registry of local landmarks. Others include Oakdale Cemetery, Marycrest College Campus and Indian Springs Park.