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Nevada City Free Public Library
Nevada City Free Public Library.jpg
Library in 2010
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Location 211 N. Pine St., Nevada City, California
Built 1907
Architect William H. Weeks
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
MPS California Carnegie Libraries MPS
NRHP reference No. 90001809
Added to NRHP December 10, 1990

The Doris Foley Library for Historical Research (formerly, Nevada City Free Public Library and Nevada City Library; colloquially: Carnegie Library or Foley) is a reference and research library in Nevada City, in Nevada County, California. Built in 1907, the Romanesque Revival style building is currently a branch of the Nevada County Library System.


With beginnings as an 1849 mining town, Nevada City had a reading room as early as 1850. Becoming a settlement, it boasted a library association in less than a decade, followed by a YMCA reading room and library in 1869. Ownership of an Odd Fellows Library that was established 1874, was transferred to the city in 1902, and the library was moved to the Corcoran Building next to the historic Nevada Theatre.

The women of Nevada City urged the library trustees to seek Carnegie funds, and, in 1904, the trustees received a grant for $10,000. Bids were opened the following year, and the estimated completion date of a new library was 1906. As the library committee believed it might receive an additional $5,000 from Carnegie, plans were made for a more elaborate building, but on October 13, 1905, the trustees were notified there would be no additional funding, necessitating changes to the plans. William H. Weeks was the architect, while Watsonville's W.J. Wilkerson of Graniterock was the builder. Organized as the Civic Improvement Club, the city's women were the landscape planners. Furnishings cost $1,000. The library was dedicated on October 4, 1907.

Miss Annie James was the librarian in 1919. By 1923, the Nevada City Free Library had 1,782 volumes, increasing to 7,555 volumes by 1927, when Iva Williamson was the librarian.


Situated in a historic Carnegie library building, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1990. Another Carnegie library and NRHP, Grass Valley's Royce Library, is in the neighboring town. The Foley is located at 211 North Pine Street, on the southwest corner of Pine and York streets, across from the Nevada County Court House. It is situated on a steeply sloping lot, 150 ft (46 m) by 50 ft (15 m), purchased by the city from the county at a cost of $700.


The building was designed in a Romanesque Revival architectural style by Weeks, the architect of several other Northern California Carnegie libraries. The seven room, single story plus basement building was constructed by Wilkerson using dark gray man-made stone, plus both rough and smooth concrete blocks, fabricated on location. It features a dark brick facade, now painted white, and a partially exposed cement foundation. A cement stairway leads from the road to the arched doorways.

Two arched windows are situated in the foyer, the side one being smaller, and the larger front one being of stained glass depicting the lamp of knowledge. There are numerous other windows, rectangular in shape.

The interior has not changed much in layout. It includes a black and white checkered floor.



Book capacity is 8,000, and the current automation system is Horizon. There are maps and records dating back to 1856, a Genealogy Room and an Assessor's Books area.

In October 2003, the library received the Arthur Cecil Todd Cornish Studies Collection, named in honor of Dr. Todd, author of The Cornish Miner in America: The Contribution to the Mining History of the United States by Emigrant Cornish Miners--The Men Called Cousin Jacks.

Friends of the Library

Though the Foley was in jeopardy of closing in July 2009 because of county budget cuts, financial support from the Friends of the Library allows it to remain open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am-4pm.

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