Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 6, 2017

North Portland Library, Oregon. 104 Years in Classic Style

I have a number of highlights still remaining to cover from last summer’s trip to Oregon, both natural and man-made points of interest.

I’ll start with a favorite architectural theme.

As autumn weather moves us to spend more time indoors, we need books to occupy us, so it’s off to the library. If you live in Portland, Oregon, your local is probably one of 19 branches of the Multnomah County Library. If you live in Northeast, near the trendy Alberta district, you’re headed to the North Portland branch at 512 North Killingsworth St.

Carnegie Library North Portland OR exterior Brad Nixon 7769 cr (640x538)

The official term for that architectural style is “Jacobethan,” a Renaissance revival conflation of Jacobean and Elizabethan.

A look at the east end shows some of the details that make it Jacobethan in brick, stone and window moldings.

N Portland Carnegie Brad Nixon 7745 cr (480x640)

This building was on my radar for a visit because it’s a historic Carnegie Library, opened in 1913, still serving the city, busy on the Friday morning I was there, and in excellent condition (I went out of my way to exclude patrons from my photos as much as possible).

Carnegie Library North Portland OR interior Brad Nixon 7756 cr (640x480)

The place is large and thriving, with an impressive interior, especially the ceilings, as in the picture above in the main room, as well as below in the wing that extends toward the rear of the building:

N Portland Carnegie int Brad Nixon 7758 cr (640x480)

The light fixtures and furniture are not original, but the architects who supervised a thorough renovation in 1999 did a creditable job of complementing the style. Kudos to the citizens of Portland, who voted for the $28 million project. Well done.

Here’s another look at the main room, looking toward the front northwest corner from behind the main desk.

N Portland Carnegie int Brad Nixon 7757 cr (640x480)

A look from that rear wing toward the front entrance gives you a sense of the scale of the building.

N Portland Carnegie int Brad Nixon 7760 cr (480x640)

The second floor includes a large meeting area finished in the same grandiose style. That morning, a local musical group was setting up for a performance.

N Portland Carnegie up Brad Nixon 7762 cr (640x480)

A library building, now over 100 years old, that looks ready to adapt to whatever functions libraries of the 22nd Century will provide. The local rallying cry may be “Keep Portland weird,” but they’re also keeping their libraries in great shape. That’s not so weird.

Stock up on reading; winter’s on its way, and I know there are still some books on that 2017 “must read” list. Thank your librarian while you’re there.

My appreciation to the librarians at North Portland who made time to chat with me as they started operations for the day.

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from Under Western Skies are available on CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky image portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2017


  1. A great place to spend a winter afternoon. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spectacular architecture! Wonder what motivated a city in the Pacific Northwest to reach back to early 19th century English architecture for the design of the building. Does it house a substantial collection of English literature?


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