75 Years of Service to Petworth

Petworth Library

75 Years of Service to Petworth

The Petworth Neighborhood Library recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. It was formally dedicated the evening of Jan. 27, 1939.

Petworth citizens had been campaigning for a library since 1927; they argued that their neighborhood, with a population of 50,000 people and 11,000 school children, was a natural choice for a neighborhood library. It was not until 1936 that Congress approved $75,000 for the construction of the Petworth Branch, with another $75,000 promised the following year. 

Plans were prepared by Nathan Wyeth, the Municipal Architect of Washington, D.C. Mr. Wyeth had trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and championed the Colonial Revival and Georgian Revival styles for the city's public architecture.

Upon its opening, the Petworth Library was an instant success. Within the first two weeks of operation, the library circulated 17,950 books. The branch librarian, Charlotte H. Clark, reported that the branch's 33,000-volume collection only provided four books for every patron. 

The collection, which swelled over the years, included a "Linguaphone Room" that offered records in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Hebrew and English. The children's and adult reading rooms featured fireplaces, which provided a cozy home-like atmosphere. It must have been lovely to sit by the fire with a book. 

The Petworth Branch served as a civilian defense station during World War II. It was reported to be the most active of the library branches and the second largest producer of Red Cross emergency sewing in D.C. The lending collection had reached 51,738 books by 1949, and the collection also included 1,420 reference volumes and 220 periodicals. 

The library also received a facelift a few years ago; the renovated library re-opened on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011.

Today, the Petworth Neighborhood Library's collection includes a Spanish Language collection, job and employment literature, and Adult Basic Education materials. 
Programs for all ages are offered regularly, and a meeting room with a capacity of 100 persons is well-used by community groups.

Please visit the Petworth Library to check out books, magazines, DVDs, books on disk and music CD's and see what great programs we've got going on!