The City of South Bend was offered a Carnegie grant of $10,000 in 1908 after submitting a petition signed by 1000 citizens. The city provided the site and agreed to levy a tax to support the library. James T Walsh of Portland was the architect and Willapa Construction won the contract to build the library with their bid of $8970. Construction began in 1912. Built in the Renaissance Revival style, the building has served as the city library since it opened in
The South Bend Public Library joined the Timberland Regional Library System when it was established in 1968.
Through the combined efforts of the Friends of the Library, the City of South Bend, and TRL, a wheelchair lift was installed in 2006, making the building accessible to everyone in the community. After decades of leaking, the windows were replaced in 2010 with modern replicas. Most everything else you see is original to the building. Though financially challenged, as are most rural areas, the city of South Bend has always valued and supported the library.
Though originally designed to house a public lecture room and two restrooms in the basement, persistent problems with flooding have kept the library on the main floor. Recently water issues in the basement have been exacerbated by problems with the building’s gutters, which have led to mold and further deterioration in the basement, as well as damage to the fascia, soffits, and other structural damage. A structural assessment was completed by Gray and Osborne Inc., and the cost of repairs was estimated to be around $100,000. Based on this report, and other concerns found during an inspection by their insurance company, TRL brought in inspectors from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries.
Timberland Regional Library, through an abundance of caution, decided to close the South Bend Library on August 29, after inspectors took samples for asbestos, mold, and lead paint from the basement. L & I recently confirmed that all three are present and abatement is necessary to keep the building The Friends of the Library and the City of South Bend are committed to repairing this historic treasure, but we need your help.