In 1915, the Dryades Branch of the New Orleans Public Library was established at 1924 Philip Street to serve the African American citizens of New Orleans. Businessman and library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) gave $25,000 for the branch's construction at the urging of James Hardy Dillard (1856-1940), a professor at Tulane University and an alumnus of Washington and Lee University (Dillard University was named for him). William R. Burk (1887-1961) served as the library's architect (Burk's firm is still in business today and is now called Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc.). A dedication program for the Dryades Branch was held on Saturday, October 24, 1915. Attendees of the program were Henry Gill (City Librarian), Frank B. Smith, James Madison Vance, Dr. Robert E. Jones, Dr. James T. Newman, Sylvania F. Williams, Walter Cohen, Albert Workman, and Rev. J.L. Burrell.
The Dryades Branch Library was well-received. In 1938, 1,300 children participated in the branch's Book Week Program. Famous visitors to the library included Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), and Paul Robeson (1898-1976), singer, athlete, actor, author, and civil rights leader. Librarians that worked at the branch included Delia Louisa Allen, Adelia Trent, and Anita L. Johnson.
The Dryades Branch remained in operation until 1965 (the building suffered damage from Hurricane Betsy). After remaining empty and unused for several years, the building was purchased by the Dryades Street YMCA and repurposed for use for community activities and programs. It has been declared a historic landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission of New Orleans, Louisiana (near the bottom of the "Historic Landmarks" section of commission's website is a list of current historic landmarks).
See related post: Marcus Bruce Christian (1900-1976), Louisiana Librarian
Sources: Spooner, Gloria. "Establishment of African American Public Library Service in Louisiana." Louisiana Libraries 63.3 (2001): 23-25. Print. ; "1,300 Race Children Attend Book Week Program at Library." The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 26 Nov. 1938: 18. Print. ; Smith, Norman R. Footprints of Black Louisiana. [Bloomington, IN?]: Xlibris Corp., 2010. 96-97. Print. ; Gunn, Alistair J. Prof. Dr. James Hardy Dillard, 1856-1940: Towards A Postal History Biography. N.p.: www.lulu.com, 2009. Print. ; "J.H. Dillard: End of An Epoch." The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 17 Aug. 1940: 6. Print. ; White, Claytee D. "Robeson, Paul (1898-1976)." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Dagbovie, Pero Gaglo. "Woodson, Carter (1875-1950)." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Martinez, Eligio Jr. "Dillard University." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Historic Landmarks." Historic District Landmarks Commission. City of New Orleans, 2014. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Home." BKI: Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc., 2012. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Foto's Folly Theatre." The Herald (New Orleans, La.) 1920 Dec. 16: 5. Print. ; "New Orleans Dryades Branch. 1920-1928 Philip Street, New Orleans. 1915. Job no. 227." William R. Burk Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive Collection 42, Project Drawings, Specifications, ca. 1915-1977 (Finding Aid). [New Orleans, La.]: Tulane University, n.d. 2. Pdf. ; "Hurricane Betsy - September 6-13, 1965." National Weather Service, Weather Prediction Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; CreoleGen. "The Right to Read... The Dryades Street Library (1915-1965)." CreoleGen, 2014 Mar. 22. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Horowitz, Andy. "Hurricane Betsy and the Politics of Disaster in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, 1965-1967." Journal of Southern History 80.4 (Nov. 2014): 893-934. Print.