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Houston Library Julia Ideson Building – Beautiful Architecture, Quaint Reading Room & Violin Playing Ghost

Roof of Julia Ideson Library Houston
Address: 500 McKinney, Houston, Texas 77002
Cost: Free
Appropriate Age: Any age

The Julia Ideson Building was designed in the Spanish revival style and opened in 1926 as the Houston Central Library. It was to be the centerpiece of a 5 building civic center, however, due to the Great Depression, this vision was not realized. The other buildings were built in the modern style of the 1930s.

The Ideson building was the central library until it was replaced by the larger Jesse H. Hones library next door in 1976. It has since been home of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center.

Houston Julia Ideson Library Gate
This building is absolutely beautiful and the perfect place for a party.  I’m secretly planning on it for at least one of my kid’s wedding receptions.  I just have one concern with this…

The building is said to be haunted.

Mural at Julia Ideson Library
 According to the Houston Chronicle,  Jacob Frank Cramer  and his German shepherd lived in the basement apartment and cared for the building.  At night, Cramer would play his violin.

Cramer died in 1936 but people still claim to hear the paws of the dog on the tile floors and violin music filling the halls.  Go here to read all the stories that I’m pretending are not true.  (Haunted buildings give me the chills.  And I can’t have heebie jeebies if I’m the mother of the bride or groom.)

Over the years, the architecture and fine details, including murals completed after the Depression, of in the Ideson building have been preserved, but have been in need of repair and updating. These updates have recently been made and the library reopened in December 2011.

Julia Ideson Libary Shelves and Chairs
 My kids and I visited for the grand re-opening and were very impressed (and did not hear any violin music). We expected to do a quick run through and check out the beautiful murals and details. We did see these, but were happy to find the Norma Meldrum Children’s Room.

The room is the original children’s room and includes the original furniture, and many of the original books, from 1926. I was amazed at the fine details. The chairs we sat in had cut outs of Puss in Boots!

Julia Ideson Library Puss in Boots Chair
 The old bookshelves have beautiful built in chairs and the kids got a kick out of sitting in them.

Books cannot be checked out from the library, but we had a good time reading them at the little tables.   We spent an hour reading whatever the kids found and no one noticed that I was listening extra careful for suspicious sounds.  I did find a few books out of place.

But I’m pretty sure my kids were responsible for it…

Julia Ideson Library Books
The library has a ramp at the back entrance, so we were able to roll our stroller in.   You should do the same.  It’s a fun free thing to do in Houston!  And if that’s not enough, it air conditioned, heated,  has clean bathrooms and maybe a nice ghost.

Julia Ideson Libary Sign

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