La Retama Club History 1955-1985

 

La Retama Library on Mesquite, 1954

 Photograph Collection 1- Box 4

Nellie Blucher Derry wrote, “The formal dedication ceremonies were held at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of March 31, 1955 followed by open house until 8:30 that night.  However, the library was moved in February and opened to the public for use on March 2, 1955.” 

La Retama Club members donated a display case for the library’s entrance, assisted the City Council with the open house, and remained active in the preparation of the new building. 

La Retama club members later remembered, “The book stock of almost 60,000 volumes was increased to

79,000 with enough space for 36,000 more books.”  Library hours increased from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. up to 70 hours a week to provide patrons extended access.  “When the city sold the Jones property for $25,000, Gazzie Warren [persuaded] the City Council to allocate $6,000 of [the sale] to the library for custom-built book stacks, [and a staff lounge].” 

 

That year, Phyllis Burson addressed La Retama Club on the growing Friends of the Library Movement and suggested the creation of such an organization for Corpus Christi.  La Retama members agreed that a larger base of supporters would greatly help the library.  Many of he club’s members worked on the Steering Committee, and The Friends of the Library was organized on April 30, 1956.  Furthermore, La Retama Club immediately, and was the first organization to do so, became 100% membership in the Friends (the name by which the Friends of the Library became known.)  The new effort by La Retama and the Friends proved productive because Corpus Christi’s first branch library, Parkdale, opened in 1962, with the Greenwood Branch in following in 1966, the Flour Bluff in 1978—reopened as the current Janet F. Harte Library in 2000, and the Northwest Library in 1982.

 

On April 9, 1980, La Retama Club celebrated its 75th birthday.  That day, the club honored all of its 50-year members:  Betty Allen, Zula Blucher, Alleyne Coleman, Gladys Gibson, Hertha Kerridge, Violet McCampbell, Courtney McCampbell and Catherine Terry.

 

Unfortunately, that same year engineers declared the third floor of the La Retama Library on Mesquite Street unsafe.  Again, La Retama and Friends members leaped to the aid of the library and surveyed the community for possible support for a bond issue.  The City Council approved a five million dollar bond issue, and when election time came, Lucy Hill organized numerous clubs including La Retama Club in a voter registration call campaign.  The bond passed and the new library construction began at the current site of the Central Corpus Christi Library on September 8, 1984 at the corner of Comanche and Tancahua.  When the city made plans to move the main library the final time from Mesquite to Comanche, discussion began as to keep the name La Retama Library.  In the end, the decision no longer to use the name La Retama stood, and many people showed sadness at the end of an era.   The Central Corpus Christi Public Library held its ribbon cutting on June 10, 1986.  Yet, La Retama Club members remain active in Corpus Christi Public Library work and planning, and wrote in 1985, “Our support of the public library, since its founding in the year 1909 has continued from three quarters of a century as an unbroken thread to the present, and will continue—into the future.” On April 22, 2008 the City Council voted to return the name of the Central Library to La Retama in honor of 100 years of library service.

Current Photo, Mesquite & PeoplesCurrent location at Mesquite and Peoples

-Norma Gonzalez/Public Libraries, 2004

La Retama, 1975La Retama Library at Mequite and Peoples in 1955

-Photograph Collection 1-Box 4

La Retama, 1957, Photo Coll Box 1Interior of the La Retama Library on Mesquite

-Photograph Collection 1-Box 4

 


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