Sunday, February 7, 2016

Baden Branch of the St. Louis Public Library

Baden is one of seventeen branches in the St. Louis Public Library system.
It is located at 8448 Church Road at Halls Ferry Road in the Baden Neighborhood.



The library takes its name from the neighborhood for which it resides. Baden became part of St. Louis in 1876. The name Baden likely came from the German city of the same name, since it was settled largely by German immigrants. Per the St. Louis City archive:
Several versions exist as to how the name of Baden was chosen, but it is generally associated with the fact that Frederick Kraft, a pioneer settler in 1852, was born in Baden-Baden, Germany. Kraft, operator of a saloon, submitted Baden as the name for the first post office in 1860 and it was officially adopted when he became the postmaster. Kraft's saloon and general store at the southwest corner of Broadway and Bittner Street was called the "Six Mile House" due to its distance from St. Louis. It was the nucleus for the business district which later developed in the vicinity. An interesting sidelight about Baden is that there were several Indian mounds in the area in its earlier years. 
In earlier years residents of Baden obtained library books through a local store where books were deposited and returned for delivery to Central Library downtown. Efforts by the Baden public school groups resulted in the establishment of a branch library in an old mounted police station at 8316 North Broadway in 1928. The building was originally leased for $1 per month. Three community organizations: The Baden Business Men’s Association, Baden School Mother’s Club, and the Baden School Patron’s Association worked to obtain the branch in their community.  (source)
 photo source: SLPL Then and Now

The present library building at 8448 Church Road was completed in 1960 and opened in January, 1961. The cornerstone honors the history of the library, dating back to 1928.
The building was designed by St. Louis Architect John Senne and was built by the Albers Construction Company.
  photo source: SLPL Then and Now circa 1961

The 5,000 sq. ft. building pictured above was renovated, adding an additional 1000 sq. ft. and reopened in 1999.
From the map above, you can see that the library sits on a wedge of sorts, between Church Road, Halls Ferry Road and McLaran Avenue. The way the architects situated the building and the amount of green space surrounding the building along with the simple and effective landscaping seems perfectly suited. I won't be able to convince you with my photos, so if you visit this branch and walk the perimeter of the property, let me know if you agree. The property is perfect.
The building looks much older than it is with a classic look that hearkens back to the early 20th Century. 
The small parking lot doesn't eat up too much space, and the bike rack is perfectly situated right next to the rear entrance.
The interior is compact, yet efficient, providing a children's, teen and adult libraries. The windows on the front of the building provide a lot of natural light.
Like all libraries, there is community information and resources posted for all to see.
The building is impressive enough to want to learn more about John Senne who designed it. Per "find a grave", Mr. Senne was the official architect for the St. Louis Library Board, and in addition to working on a redesigned of the Central Library, he worked on three libraries in St. Louis, Baden, Buder-II (currently the Record Exchange) and the third is a mystery that I will investigate at the Central Library.

Mysteries at the Library (Baden Branch)
  1. Baden and Buder-II were designed by John Senne, what was the third branch?

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