First Look: Demo, Replacement Planned for Clayton Mid-County Library Branch

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We now have a first look at the $7M replacement for the St. Louis County library’s Mid-County branch at 7821 Maryland in downtown Clayton. Planned is a modern gray brick replacement as part of phase two of the “Your Library Renewed” campaign.

The 2012 master plan produced by the library system outlined plans for the replacement or renovation of the system’s branch libraries. County voters approved a tax increase to fund renovations and replacements for the system that spans 20 buildings.

Some opposition formed after plans to demolish the Mid-Century Lewis & Clark branch (1963) become more widely known in 2013. The Tesson Ferry Branch, the oldest building in the system, was also demolished. No one covered that issue better than Toby Weiss at B.E.L.T.

The current Mid-County branch building was completed in 1977 to serve as the St. Louis County Library Mid-County branch after the Clayton Public Library became part of the larger system. The 16,395 sf library would be replaced by an 18,852 sf building. The existing 53 parking spaces would be replaced by 49 spaces. A parking study by St. Louis Public Library was performed to address anticipated demand.

Plans for the new library will be presented to the Clayton Architectural Review Board at a time yet to be set. Design work for the project is by Christner, Inc.

From the St. Louis County Library 2012 Master Plan:

Existing Mid-County Branch:

The new Grant’s View Branch replaced the Tesson Ferry location:

The Tesson Ferry Branch library was demolished in a favor the new Grant’s View Branch:

The new Lewis & Clark Branch replaced the Frederick Dunn designed 1963 building:

The original Lewis & Clark Branch library, demolished 2014:


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  • Wabash

    The proposed building is completely uninspiring and actually kind of depressing.

    • rgbose

      How about a building that looks like a civic edifice?

  • John

    The new Lewis and Clark Library branch looks so stark and uninviting. Maybe that’s a bad angle in the photo, but it looks like a prison and not much landscaping at all. Lots of missed opportunity.

  • W. Anderson

    That seems like a lot of construction for not a lot of payoff. I’m not too attached to the current building, but I am a patron, and I’m puzzled: am I missing some tremendous advantage of the “updated” space? (If parking by non-library users is such a problem, some sort of gate-and-token arrangement would make it at least harder. But I have also never had trouble on the occasions I’ve needed to find parking there. I do find the arrangement of the lot counterintuitive, especially the path to the book dropbox; I can’t believe that couldn’t be fixed without tearing down the building.)

  • STLEnginerd

    Definitely some convoluted reasoning going on here…

    The Mid-County Branch built in 1977 is a 16,099 sqft. The parking onsite is not adequate or convenient. The meeting facility is limited by parking restrictions. It is difficult to restrict parking to library customers.

    So because parking is in adequate they a recommending building a new facility with fewer spaces (from 53 to 49).

    The current building has lower level parking and the new one has the same so if its not convenient now it will still be equally inconvenient.

    Architecturally the new building is completely forgettable.
    Visually the current building is really nice by comparison. internally
    it may need a complete renovation. Certainly the bathrooms and probably
    the electrical system need a complete overhaul. New energy efficient
    upgrades some minor layout changes and new furnishings and flooring.
    ALOT could be done with 7 million. ALso note this was built in 1977 so it should not have any remediation issues you would associate with earlier midcentury buildings (asbestos, lead pipes, etc.)

    And how is the new facility any more equipped to restrict parking to library customers and incidental why should it? Just have the parking metered like the rest of the public parking in Clayton. If they really want to make the library accessible make the first hour free to holders of a county library card. That might be a good policy to promote/increase library membership as well. It could be nice revenue stream as well.

    Personally i don’t understand why they feel they need to provide parking. If you want free and ample parking go to one of the many other branches with ample free parking. In a perfect world they would covert the lower level into additional community space and just let the library patrons use on street parking, public transit or walk. That’s probably a bridge to far for Clayton right now but maybe someday…
    If the proposal was a new build on a new site and this site was being offered for commercial mixed used mid rise development, then I would have to consider my position more carefully. As it is the proposal should be put in a garbage can.

    I am not a hardline preservationist. I don’t see the loss of the Tesson Ferry branch as a significant loss and Grant View is actually a really stunning building. If they had preserved the ENTIRE stained glass of the Lewis and Clark branch I would have been in favor of that one as well. Sadly they pulled a little bait a switch by only partially preserving the glass which was extremely disappointing considering how minimal the preservation request was. This is nonsensical it is in the center of Clayton and doesn’t even meet the architectural quality standard set by the new Grant View building. No thanks.

  • Riggle

    Really of a mixed mind on this, while I don’t wish to see the great old building destroyed anything to make Clayton a more god awful place is good for St Louis, so at least there is a plus side

    • PD

      How is Clayton a ‘god awful’ place? And how is it being one good for st. louis?

      • Riggle

        On its face it sucks, its a crap 1970s suburban downtown. Its good for st louis if its sucks because maybe those potential investments will come to st louis instead of clayton

      • Guest

        There’s nothing in downtown Clayton built within the last 40 or so years
        that’s anywhere near architecturally interesting or speaks to a true urban lover. Can’t blame it on the
        architects…they have to please when the client cries “build it as
        cheap as you can!”.

        That a suburb has become the biggest rival (or worse yet, replacement)
        of a city’s central business district is…beyond sad…more than strange…laughably ridiculous. Our front door
        to the world is downtown St. Louis. Who’d be foolish enough to trash it?

  • Tim E

    They do like their boxes. I think the current space is not enough for current uses beyond books and at the same time the proposed replacement is underwhelming considering what it is replacing. I assume the budget is the big reason in overall design. You are not going to get a lot of extra space, signature budget and meet all the needs on their needs on the budget/dollars they have. Unfortunately, Clayton and County lose out on a great central opportunity to bring it up a notch as libraries are more relevant then ever to communities..

  • Framer

    Idiots! I love the current building.

  • PD

    NOOOOOO, I grew up 2 blocks and love that branch. The lot is always half empty and Ive never had a problem finding parking there. Yeah it feels a bit old inside but nothing some paint and a minor refresh couldn’t fix. Of all the old 70 buildings built in clayton I think this one has aged the best. Worst part about the whole library is that ugly signage they added to the front as part of their refresh. Also at this point they could probably reduce the amount a physical books in that branch by half and no one would notice. There is all the space they need for meeting spaces(even though they have plenty)