|Craigshead Public Library in 1964|
Not too far from the lively downtown of Jonesboro, AR sits the Craighead County Public Library. This interesting Modernist building is nestled in a beautiful historic neighborhood, in contrast to the charming Victorian and Craftsman houses all around it. Rather like Little Rock and Fayetteville, Jonesboro was a center for Mid-Century Modern architecture. The presence of a significant university in all three cities was probably a factor in this development. However, there were also very progressive architectural firms in all three cities as well. In the case of Jonesboro, the firm of Stuck, Frier, Lane, Scott Inc., now Stuck & Associates, who created many works of Modern architecture across the city, and all down the Arkansas Delta. Many of their works in Jonesboro reside on the campus of Arkansas State University, but they also created several fantastic examples around the city, many for the city of Jonesboro. The Craigshead County Library was one of these buildings.
Stuck Frier Lane Scott Inc. designed this building as the fourth in a series of libraries that had moved around downtown Jonesboro from its founding in 1917 until this building was completed in 1964. The original location was in a commercial space at Union and Huntington, the following two were both located in houses. However, only one of the former library locations survives today, a stately house at Elm and Main, but I digress. It became evident by the late 1950's that a new library building was necessary to house the expanding needs of the county library. It was decided that a building in the Modernist style was preferable due to the up to date and "modern" image that such a building would provide to the city of Jonesboro and to the county as a whole.
The firm of Stuck Frier Lane Scott Inc. was a firm with a progressive reputation. They paid constant attention to the national architectural publications and architectural trends, after all architectural ideas do not appear out of thin air. This is seen in their Craig Ellewood inspired former office building on Southwest Boulevard, but that is a building for another post. Anyhow, I mention all of this to say that the inspiration for the design of the library likely came from the work of one of the recognizable Modernist architects in the country, Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the late World Trade Center Towers. In 1961 a building designed by Yamasaki was completed in Lansing, MI on the campus of Michigan State University. The Michigan State Medical Society Building was a stunning prototype for many of the his future design motifs, and a fantastic case study for the firm.
|Michigan State Medical Society Building, 1961|
|Lambert - St. Louis International Terminal, 1955|
|First National Bank of Wynne, 1961|
|Glass House, 1949|
Now I would like to say that pointing out the possible inspirations for this design does not in any way take away from the beauty of this building, or the originality of the design. Each of these three buildings serve different purposes and the reasons behind the choice of this design style were all different. I cannot speak as to the efficiency of the designs for the other buildings, however this form was ideal for the use as a library. The reason for this is the open space that is allowed by the arch design, which requires minimal interior supports. This feature allows for the insertion of scores of bookshelves to appear seamless and only natural. Of course, classical forms are natural pairings for the typology of the library.
|Craigshead County Public Library interior|
|TWA Terminal at Idlewild, 1962|
|Dulles International Airport, 1962|
|Farnsworth House, 1945-1951|