Dole Branch Library History

In October 1918 a deposit collection was placed in Fair Oaks Pharmacy at Ridgeland and Chicago Avenues. A storefront branch was set up at 212 Chicago Avenue in 1923 and it was moved to 208 Chicago Avenue in 1932.

In 1939 Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Dole presented the building at Augusta Street and Cuyler Street to the Village of Oak Park to be used for "cultural and recreational purposes." In 1940 the North Branch Library moved to its current location in the re-modeled, village-owned Dole building and became the Dole Branch Library.

The current building serving as the Dole Learning Center has a history of varied purposes and renovations.

North Congregational Church

North Congregational ChurchA prairie landmark which had been moved from Iowa Street in Oak Park in 1906 occupied the site when local architects Tallmadge and Watson designed a New England style church with a belfry and community house for the North Congregational Church. A more modest building was erected in 1926 around the already existing frame structure of the prairie landmark. The rapidly growing number of automobiles made transportation to larger central churches more convenient and the neighborhood church, North Congregational, closed less than a decade after construction.

Oak Park Junior College (1933 - 1938)

In the fall of 1933 the old church became the Oak Park Junior College. The Oak Park Junior College operated from 1933 to 1938. 

Oak Park Junior CollegeOak Park Junior CollegeTwo views of the Oak Park Junior College from the North West.

Dole Learning Center

By 1939 the building had changed hands twice more. In May of 1940 the North Branch extension of the Oak Park Public Library (originally housed at Fair Oaks Pharmacy at Ridgeland and Chicago), finally moved to the re-modeled, re-conditioned Dole building.

Dole circulation deskEarly photograph of the circulation desk at the Dole Branch Library.