The Mark Twain Branch of the Detroit Public Library, designed to be Detroit’s third regional library, opened to the public on February 22, 1940 with over 20,000 books. The library, referred to as a regional library and intended to be larger than neighborhood libraries, held a wide selection of books and periodicals in an informal clubhouse environment.
Architect Wirt C. Rowland designed the striking Art Deco Mark Twain Branch Library. Rowland is best known for contributing Art Deco skyscrapers to Detroit’s skyline.
Newspaper accounts from the 1940’s and 1950’s indicate the library hosted a number of popular community events, such as Boy Scout meetings, musical events and lecture series.
By the 1990’s, however, the library fell into disrepair due to Detroit’s financial problems. It closed in the 1990’s, only able to reopen for two days per week shortly after.
The library closed in 1997 for renovation and never reopened. What began as an overdue project to repair the library’s roof led to the discovery of asbestos and structural problems. It was demolished amid controversy in 2011.
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