The Stone Avenue Library in Brownsville celebrated its 100th anniversary this week, reopening after eight weeks of renovations.
The Brooklyn Public Library branch at the corner of Mother Gaston Boulevard and Dumont Avenue is believed to be the first children’s library in the nation, and its design reflects that mission.
Originally known as the Brownsville Children’s Library, the two-story building was designed to resemble a fairy tale castle, and the fireplace made to look like a storybook.
The renovations preserved many of the interior’s original details — such as the Rookwood tile fireplace and the rabbit-head finials on its carved wooden benches — but added some new touches, including a giant chess set, plus high-tech additions such as two self-checkout machines at the new customer service desk.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first children’s library in the country than to re-imagine it as a renewed space for learning and community” said Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D–Brownsville). “The Stone Avenue branch library has always been a safe space for our community.”
The library was one of the many funded by steel magnate-turned-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and was designed by William B. Tubby who also designed three other Carnegie libraries in the borough — the Carroll Gardens, Dekalb, and Leonard branchs.
Stone Avenue Library was the twenty-fifth branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system to open, and the nineteenth Carnegie branch in the borough. It was originally built to reduce the overcrowding at the Brownsville Branch library at 61 Glenmore Avenue.
The renovations were partially funded by the donation of an undisclosed amount by Mike Reiss, a writer and producer of “The Simpsons” and his wife Denise. This gift was used to purchase furniture for the children’s area, gaming equipment for teens and other items.