5 Oporto-Madrid Blvd. S. , Birmingham, Alabama 35206
The East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Public Library began its life in a 25×50 foot room on the second floor of the East Lake Fire Station in 1914. In 1926, the land was purchased at #5 Oporto Madrid Boulevard from Sidney P. King at a cost of $10,000 for a new library building.
The Miller and Martin Architectural Firm was chosen to design a building along the same lines as the “new” Linn-Henley Research Library which opened in 1927. The completed East Lake Branch Library was a two-story, Georgian Revival structure with 8,000 square feet of usable space. It was built using the same stone and buff bricks as the current East Lake Fire Station next door. It opened its doors in 1928 close to three elementary schools (Barrett, Robinson and Kirby), Woodlawn High School and Howard College (now Samford University located in Homewood).
In 1937, the East Lake Branch was chosen to house the acclaimed Storybook Mural by Birmingham artist Carrie Hill. It was commissioned by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA paid for the time and work of the artist while the Library paid for the canvas and paint. The 27’x 9’ foot canvas mural depicts such characters as Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffett, Mother Goose and the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The characters appear to be stepping out of a storybook and walking down a path similar to the “yellow brick road” in the Wizard of Oz. The artist, Carrie Hill, used her own likeness for the face of Mother Goose.
In the mid 1970’s, fire and water damaged the 1937 mural located in the Children’s Reading Room. John Bertalan, a Birmingham art conservator, restored the mural in 1993.