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The Tyrrell Historical Library
Beaumont, Texas

695 Pearl Street
A. N. Dawson, Architect
Built in 1903 as the First Baptist Church

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Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas
The Tyrrell Historical Library
Photo by John Troesser, 9-04
The most eye-catching building in downtown Beaumont is the Tyrrell Library. Constructed in 1903 as the First Baptist Church of Beaumont, it replaced a red brick church that had previously occupied the site.

The rough-quarried limestone exterior instantly reminds the first-time viewer of a medieval castle (with stained-glass windows). The building is an example of Richardsonian design. Professor Jay C. Henry in his book Texas Architecure 1895 - 1945 states that it might pass for Richardsonian Romanesque "were two great Gothic windows not used to light the sanctuary." We were about to say the same thing.
Tyrrell Historical Library as  tye First Baptist Church, Beaumont, Texas

Postcard of the building when it was still the First Baptist Church
Courtesy THC

Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas
The building today
Photo by John Troesser, 5-03
Tyrrell Historical Library tower, Beaumont, Texas
The Tyrrell Historical Library tower
Photo by John Troesser, 5-03
Twenty years after it was built, the Baptist congregation had outgrown the church and so it was put on the market. Captain William C. Tyrrell purchased the building, stained-glass windows and all, and donated it to the city for use as a public library - an act that almost certainly saved it from eventual destruction. It has retained the name Tyrrell but has since become a historical and genealogical research library.


John Troesser

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Beaumont Texas railroad bridge
View of the library, theater and the railroad bridge over the Neches River
Photo by John Troesser, 2003

Tyrrell Public Library

  • My Brief Stroll Down the Tobacco Road by Frances Giles
    The Tyrrell Public Library in Beaumont, Texas during the years of my childhood was the site of many happy hours spent browsing for books to read...more

  • Subject: My First Visit
    I must have been about ten, and a student at St Anthony's Grammar School. We had been studing about Libraries and how they worked, and that must have peaked my interest in books something that had not been apparent before. It must have been 1938 and a saturday so I highed myself by foot the twelve or fifteen block downtown to the Tyrell Library.

    It is an expoerience that is seared into my memory even today. I entered the massive doors in front and I distintly remember that when I stepped inside the floor squeeked, and there was a smell that I can still smell today, but for the live of me cannot describe. Dust particles hung in the diffused light clear up to the vaulted ceiling like a gentle London fog.

    As I hestantly walked furthur in to the huge open room out of the fog emirged a large figure dressed in black and scramed at me "What do you want young man?". It later turned out that she was not large, only about 5 feet tall, not dressed in black, it was grey and didn't scream. But my heart was pounding and I was speachless, something my parents would find hard to believe.

    I finally sputtered out the name of the book I wanted and she took me in tow and found it for me and then asked me for a library card. It was at that point that I knew the dream was about to shatter. What Library card, I didn't know anything about cards. That was the catch, they said it was a free library but you to have a card and you had to buy it and it probably cost a dollar or more. I guped real hard and confessed that I didn't have one. At that point she won my heart forever by saying "That's alright Hugh come with me to the checkout desk fill out this little form and I will type one up for you." She must have really like me because she spent the next fifteen minutes explaining how books are our friends and we never turn down their ears or write on their pages and we always return them a day early so that others can also enjoy them.

    She lauched me on a wonderious journey of the printed page that has lasted til today. I am now 82 and as long as my eyes hold out I will continue my treak into the unkown. - Hugh Nini, Sr., February 06, 2011

  • Subject: Library comment
    In your introductory photo of Beaumont, I see the tower of the old Tyrrell Public Library in the foreground. When we moved to Beaumont in June of 1968, I was nine. Our house was only the second one to be built on our block so there weren't any other kids to play with. My mother would take us to the library every week.

    The library was in an old church downtown next to the city auditorium. The children's collection was in the turret room at the top of winding stairs. On one of the landings was a glass display case with a vintage doll collection. I always had to stop and admire all of the dolls. They were historical figures in elaborate costumes and I loved the detail and colors of the fabric.

    I got my first library card, a pale blue one with a metal ID number. Children were limited to eight books. A feminist at an early age, I loved the biography series for children which included famous women. I read about Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Babe Didrickson Zaharias - who was actually from Beaumont and grew up on streets we drove by on our way to the library. - Anne L. Cook. Austin, October 04, 2004

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