This striking landmark sits at the end of Littleton’s historic Main Street at 2707 W. Main St. The City’s first public library opened in the building in August 1917. Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, a French architect who studied at the Beaux-Arts School in Paris, designed the building. He gained renown in Denver and Littleton, where he also designed the Town Hall (1920) and the first Presbyterian Church (1929).
The Carnegie Foundation provided most of the funds for the $8,000 building. Benedict’s Beaux-Arts design features Italian Renaissance style elements with Palladian windows on the front of the building. At the top of each arch is a decorative keystone, and the ceiling of the arched entrance features a terracotta flower motif. The library and courthouse buildings create a bookend effect by enclosing Main Street between two prominent buildings, an urban design unique among small towns.
For a time, the library was the center of the Littleton community. During the Depression, the library served as headquarters for the Colorado Works Administration and provided book-binding jobs for women. During World War II, the building housed a Bundles for Britain war relief festival and a Red Cross service project.
The Littleton Public Library had completely outgrown the Carnegie building by 1965, when it moved to a new Mid-Century Modern building at 6014 S. Datura St. and became the Bemis Public Library.
The Carnegie Library at the west end of Main Street, c. 1920.
Photo Courtesy of Littleton Museum
With a few exceptions, the exterior of the Carnegie building is largely unchanged since its construction. The interior, on the other hand, has been remodeled for many uses over the years. Until 1977 it was the Littleton police station and jail. In early 1979 the City sold the building to a developer, who remodeled the inside and opened a discotheque called Pistachio’s. At that time, additions were made to the south and west sides of the building. The concrete-block extension on the south side obliterated an arched window, which was part of the original brick building. The disco was followed by four restaurants: Cafe Kandahar, with an Alpine ski motif and European cuisine; Alpine Cafe for family dining; The Old Library, a beer garden; and Scribbles, owned by two members of the Denver Broncos football team. For the last two decades, it has been The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant. At 100 years, the Carnegie Library, although somewhat altered, still graces the foot of Littleton’s Main Street.
The City of Littleton has a historic façade easement that protects the historic appearance of the building. The City of Littleton declared the Carnegie Library a Local Landmark in 1973, and the library was added to the Littleton Main Street Historic District as a contributing building in 2005.
Learn more about the Carnegie Library here: Carnegie Library, littletongov.org.