The Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library opened Oct. 24, 1983, after nearly 20 years of planning, on the north side of South Dakota Avenue between Jefferson and Kennedy streets NE. Situated in the northernmost section of Northeast, the branch was intended to supplement the services of the outgrown Takoma Park Neighborhood Library (built in 1911) and to extend library services to a broader community in Northeast.
The Lamond-Riggs Library, a $2 million facility, was built with funds provided in the Public Library’s Capital Improvements budget. The two-story, 19,000-square-foot brick building was the first of two D.C. library buildings designed by architectural firm Bryant and Bryant and built by A.A. Beiro Construction Company.
Tireless community rewarded
In 1957, the Citizens’ Association of Chillum, a far-north Washington community bounded roughly by Eastern Avenue, Gallatin Street, and the railroad right-of-way, submitted a request to for a neighborhood library in their area. The Friendly Neighbors Club, a group based in the Chillum neighborhood, renewed the request in 1966, and the D.C. Public Library tentatively included the new branch in its capital improvements program.
For several years, the proposed branch for the Chillum or Lamond-Riggs neighborhood continued to appear in the Library’s capital improvements program with no action taken. Despite a citizens’ petition in support of funding for the branch in 1969, Congress and the Board of Library Trustees failed to provide money for the project. In 1973, the Public Library imposed a moratorium on new branch construction in order to reassess the library’s goals and the community’s needs. A noted exception to this moratorium was the Lamond-Chillum-Riggs Neighborhood Library, which got top priority because of the community’s active participation in the project.
By 1975, the Board of Library Trustees approved the site for the new Lamond-Riggs branch, at South Dakota Avenue and Kennedy Street NE. The Library requested funds for the site, planning, construction and equipment in the 1976 Capital Improvements budget, but was denied by Congress. By 1979, Congress had approved the funds for construction. Bryant and Bryant prepared the designs. In November 1979, the Library’s Board of Trustees approved the plans, the community accepted the design, and in a last step, the Commission of Fine Arts approving them Jan. 9, 1980.
A.A. Beiro Construction began work in February 1982. The two-story, brick building featured an asymmetric facade with a setback entrance, ribbon windows and a diagonal parapet wall connecting the first and second stories. Designed to be handicap accessible, the library contained all public services on the first floor, including adult and children’s reading rooms, a community meeting room and stack area. The second floor was occupied by additional stack areas and staff offices. The site plan included off-street parking for patrons, a rarity at urban libraries.
The branch was dedicated October 24, 1983. The grateful residents of the Lamond-Chillum-Riggs neighborhood immediately embraced their new library, becoming involved in its operation and programs. The branch also became involved in its community, offering public programs and services, including a community forum on drug abuse and prevention held in March 1985.
The Friends of the Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library has, over the years, offered support to the library through its fundraising, volunteer and advocacy programs. It provides funds for holiday activities, puppet shows and prizes for the summer reading program.