History of the Lake Station-New Chicago Branch

The Lake Station-New Chicago Branch wasn't always one library. Before the Lake County Public Library even existed, the Lake Station Library was a branch of the Gary Public Library. It was later adopted into the Lake County Public Library. New Chicago Library, on the other hand, was one of LCPL's original branches, created in 1962. Eventually these two libraries merged into the wonderful Lake Station-New Chicago library we know and love today.

The East Gary Library
Helen Patterson, Head Librarian
East Gary Library, 1924

Lake Station Branch: The East Gary Library and the Post Office (1914 - 1951)

The Gary Public Library started the East Gary Library (now Lake Station) as an extension service of the Hobart library. The first East Gary library was housed at the post office located just west of Ripley Street on Central Avenue. Mrs. Jay Lewis was the first librarian from 1914 till 1918. Then Miss Helen Patterson was hired and was the librarian for the next 24 years. The children's books were housed at Central School, and a small adult collection was housed at the post office.

Nearly 19 years later, around 1933, Miss Patterson, the library, and the post office moved into a new building at Grove and Pike. This new building cost $4,000 and was built by Postmaster G.E. Faupel of East Gary. The library was in one wing of the new post office. However, within 10 years the library and Post Office outgrew that building and moved to a location at Central Avenue and Parke St. The library remained a part of the Post Office until 1951.

Lake Station Branch: Moving to Central Ave with the Lake County Public Library

In 1951, the Federated Womenís Club found a suitable site for a library at 3125 Fairview Avenue. The club painted the room a pleasant shade of light green and painted the floor a rich mahogany. The women made drapes for the windows and added a philodendron plant.

In 1952 the library moved again. This time the East Gary Library rented the first floor of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles hall at 3634 Central Avenue. The East Gary Aerie No. 2766 FOE rented the space for $55 per month; heat, light, water and janitorial services were included. During this time the library separated from the Gary Public Library system and became part of the Public Library of Lake County (now the Lake County Public Library system) which itself became an independent library system in 1959 (after contracting with Gary Public Library from 1952-1958).

In January, 1959, the Lake County Public Library system set aside $10,000 for the construction of a new library in East Gary. The site for the future library, at 2400 Central Avenue, was purchased from L. Stendahl and Son for $5,000. Joseph B. Martin and Associates was hired as the architect.

Lake Station Branch in its Own Building (1961 - 2007)

Dedicating the Easy Gary Lake Station Branch, 1962
East Gary (Lake Station) Dedication Ceremony, 1962

The town of East Gary was proud to have their own library building. On Sunday, April 15, 1961, Librarian Mrs. Lillian Sykes broke ground for the new library at the ground breaking ceremony. Once the building process had begun, civic organizations were fundamental in raising money for the library. Nearly $9,000 was donated towards furniture, art work, landscaping, and air conditioning equipment. Mrs. Walter Koontz, chairman of the Womenís Club library committee worked towards a library for 10 years. Her organization set aside $1,000 in addition to the money raised by the Lionís Club (over $1500). Members of these organizations held fund raising events, sold peanuts, sponsored bake sales and dances, and even went door to door asking residents for donations for the future library. The circulation desk was built by John Schwartz, a library staff member.

Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops helped put books on the shelves in preparation for the new branch opening. Finally, on Sunday, February 25, 1962, the library held a dedication ceremony attended by more than 500 residents. The new 4,224-square-foot library building cost $57,645 and housed approximately 17,000 items. Library hours were Monday-Friday, 12:30-8:30 and Saturday 10-5.

In 1977, the city changed back to its original name of Lake Station, and the name of the library branch changed as well.

New Chicago Branch: 3334 Michigan Avenue (1962 - 1967)

The New Chicago Branch in its rented quarters
The library was the second door from the left, first floor.

The New Chicago Branch began operations on December 7, 1962, with the independent LCPL system in rented quarters at 3334 Michigan Avenue. (The building also housed a barber shop operated by the owner.) Librarian Winifred Young accepted the keys from Brooks Anderson, the building's owner. American Legion Post 45 donated an American flag to the library.

A former branch head recalled that the "owner was convinced you needed very few nails or screws to hold up library bookshelves; he thought otherwise when a range of shelving fell over on a student assistant."

There was no storage space, so magazines were kept in the bathroom -- until the sewers backed up!

The New Chicago Branch in its rented quarters
New Chicago Branch Head
Ingrid Norris, 1984

New Chicago Branch: 3250 Michigan Avenue (1967 - 2007)

Groundbreaking for the new library building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Huber Boulevard was on October 10, 1966, and the open house and dedication took place on March 3, 1968.

Open for service: October 2, 1967
Dedicated: March 3, 1968
Total Cost: $94,275
Size: 3,500 square feet
Capacity: 19,200 volumes
Architect: Joseph P. Martin
Contractor: Cook Construction Company



The Lake Station-New Chicago Branch: 2007 Central Ave (2007 - Present Day)

The Lake Station-New Chicago Branch as it is today (2015)
The Lake Station-New Chicago Branch as it is today.

Both the Lake Station and New Chicago Branch Libraries continued to grow and change with the times, and by the dawn of the twenty-first century, they had outgrown their latest homes.

In 2007 the new Lake Station-New Chicago Branch opened at 2007 Central Avenue. The new 16,000-square-foot facility included a large meeting room, a large display case, a children's programming room, an outdoor patio for programming, and a quiet study room, along with increased space for materials and computers. In August, 2013, library hours expanded to Monday-Thursday, 10-8:30; Friday, 10-6; and Saturday, 9-5. As library demand has not decreased, these are the hours they keep today.

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