Between 1883 and 1929, over 2,500 cities and towns across the globe received library construction funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Oregon City was one such recipient.

Although the Oregon City Public Library was thoroughly modern when constructed 1913, its architect, Portland-based E. E. McClaran, had no way of knowing how library usage would evolve over time.

By 1995, the technological demands of library patrons had grown so significantly, Oregon City’s tiny brick library could no longer meet the needs of its community. Library staff and collections moved to a larger temporary space, while design and financing options for a new library were explored. Community outreach conducted soon thereafter revealed an important fact: Oregon City residents were united in the belief that the best location for a new library was that of the old one. And although almost everyone agreed that the library needed to grow both in size and amenities, the public was very clear that they wanted to preserve their beloved Carnegie-funded structure.

The Oregon City Public Library redesign team faced a tough challenge. How could they create an addition nearly three times the size of the original library, while allowing the historic Carnegie building to remain the focal point of the park in which it sits?

Today, the fully renovated original building remains proudly front and center. A new addition features a second story comprised largely of windows. From certain angles, this sparkling upper floor appears to float above the original library like a semi-transparent crown.

The library’s original entryway has been preserved, while a second entry has been positioned where the two structures meet, creating a connection between past and present. A new community room provides much needed gathering space; and upgrades to the library’s collection, children’s library and maker space have helped align the 1913 facility with 21st century library science.


The Oregon City Public Library has always been the centerpiece of the park in which it sits, a fact not lost on the library redesign team. Thus, its connection to the surrounding park has been emphasized in many positive ways. Park spaces have been incorporated into the entry plaza, creating a lush and inviting space which attracts visitors. And dying elm trees, which had to be removed from the park for safety reasons, were milled for use in library counters, stack ends, and tables. The result is a seamless blend of historic preservation and state-of-the-art modern design which will serve library patrons well for many decades to come.

For allowing the original library to remain in its rightful prominent position; for providing a primer on designing a contemporary addition which harmonizes and integrates with a historic structure; and seamlessly blending new construction into a historic site to create a lively and inviting community destination, Restore Oregon was delighted to present the Oregon City Public Library with a 2018 DeMuro Award.


Original Article

Title:  DeMuro Award Profile: Oregon City Public Library (c. 1913)

Posted By: Restore Oregon


Author: Restore Oregon

Date: March 6, 2018

Link: Original Article