Five Tyler Women's clubs, the First Literary Club, Bachelor Maids, Quid Nunc, Sherwood Club and Athenian Club, collectively known as the Federated Women's Clubs of Tyler, worked several years to form a series of libraries for this growing East Texas town.Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2010
In 1902, the Tyler Free Library Board requested funding for a library building from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie agreed to provide $15,000.00 to the city of Tyler for a library, but stipulated that the city donate the building site and furnishings and maintain the library at a cost of no less than $1,500.00 per year. A lot was purchased at the northwest corner of South College and West Elm, and fundraising efforts throughout the community provided the books, furnishings, landscaping , and telephone services for the new library.
The Chicago architect firm of Patton and Miller designed the Italian Renaissance style building, with R.H. Downing of Tyler as architectural supervisor and D. Mahoney of Waxahachie as builder. The original library housed children's and adult's reading rooms, a check-out desk, book shelves and an office on the first floor, while the second floor included an auditorium with a stage and two small dressing rooms. For many years, this was the only public auditorium in Tyler. A 1936 addition, which doubled the size of the original building, featured murals depicting life in East Texas by Texas artist Douthett Wilson. The building is a two story masonry structure, built with standard size buff brick and limestone. An overhanging red clay hipped roof tops the building in a low profile and keystones and cut stone embellishments frame all the windows and doors. The main entry is topped by a broken pediment and stained glass transom.