Located at the corner of East Fourth and Cedar Streets, the Julesburg Public Library was built in 1937, after the Julesburg Woman’s Club led a long-term effort to get a permanent library building for the community. Designed by Stanley Morse in the Art Moderne style, the library includes several community meeting spaces and also served for more than thirty years as the home of the Pioneer Museum. In 2001 the library was listed on the State Register of Historic Places.
Women Organize for a Julesburg Library
The push for a public library in Julesburg began in June 1913, when local members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union started a reading room downtown in the hope that it might develop into a public library. The reading room received local support, including book and magazine donations.
In spring 1914, several local women campaigned for an unsuccessful ballot measure for a public library. Later that year they joined the Julesburg Woman’s Club (JWC), which was organized in September 1914, and planned to build a permanent public library on their own. By 1920 the JWC had raised enough money to buy land for a library in downtown Julesburg. While the group continued to raise money for the building, in 1922 it opened a semipermanent library at the Citizens National Bank building at West Second and Cedar Streets. By 1926 the library contained more than 2,000 books.
New Deal Funding to the Rescue
In 1932 the JWC was able to acquire more land adjacent to the lots it already owned at East Fourth and Cedar Streets, but by 1935 the group recognized that it needed outside help to build a permanent library in Julesburg. That year the JWC hired the architect Stanley Morse to draw up plans for a library, and it also applied to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a newly established New Deal agency, for a grant to cover 45 percent of the building’s cost. In September the library plans were put on public display in town, and in October the WPA announced that it would give Julesburg nearly $10,000 for the building. The JWC funded the rest of the building’s cost.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the library was held on February 22, 1936, and the cornerstone was laid on May 28. Like many other WPA buildings in northeastern Colorado, which had few local quarries, the library was designed in a modernistic style, using cinderblocks covered with stucco and painted a light buff color. The interior featured stucco walls, oak floors, and dark wood trim. The building’s main floor included space for a library and a club room for the JWC, and its large basement had two rooms that could be used by community groups.
On September 15, 1937, the JWC held its first meeting in its new club room, and the building was officially dedicated on October 8. Located in the Sedgwick County seat, it quickly became a center for social and civic events attended by people from across the county.
In 1940 the Pioneer Museum opened in the library basement’s north room. The museum was based around the collection of Leslie M. Lytle, who served as the museum’s curator until his death in 1946. In 1949 the room was named for Lytle. By the 1960s, the museum had outgrown the basement’s north room and started to store items in the basement’s south room, which had previously served as an activities room for sewing groups, Boy Scouts, and other local groups.
In 1975 the museum moved to the Julesburg Union Pacific Depot. Since then the basement’s north room has been used for dance and Tae Kwan Do classes. The Fort Sedgwick Historical Society, which operates the museum, still uses the basement’s south room for storage.
Today the library contains more than 7,000 volumes as well as several computers for public use. The building is owned by the town of Julesburg, and the library is managed by the JWC, which continues to meet in its club room on the building’s main floor. A variety of community groups regularly use the building for reunions, celebrations, political meetings, and church services.