Maze Branch Library History

Maze Branch

On October 5, 1915, the Oak Park Public Library opened the South Branch Library in a rented building at 429 Harrison Street. Twenty-one years later, on November 1, 1936, the South Branch Library moved to the new facility at its present location on the corner of Gunderson Avenue and Harrison Street.

A local architectural firm, E. E. Roberts and Elmer C. Roberts, designed the building and its surroundings. The building is of an early Georgian design relating to the Regency period of English architecture. It is constructed of red Old Virginia brick with white stone trim. The building is known for its beautiful main reading room featuring built-in white oak shelving around the perimeter of the room, white oak beams, carved lintels, and a fireplace with a pink Tennessee marble hearth and specially designed sconces.

The South Branch was renamed the Adele H. Maze Branch in August of 1957 within two weeks of the death of the librarian who had done so much for the south Oak Park community from 1918 until 1957.

Forty-eight years after the building was renamed the Adele H. Maze Branch, the decision was made to undertake a major refurbishment of the branch. On July 30, 2005 the Maze closed for renovation. The collection was moved off-site and then all of the asbestos was removed from the building as part of a planned environmental remediation and in preparation for the extensive building work.

A small groundbreaking ceremony on September 17, 2005, marked the start of the renovation project. The original western extension of the building was demolished and an addition was constructed in its place. The new addition included expanded shelving for the collection, an elevator that was accessible to all levels, and glass block windows on the lower level to improve lighting.

Other renovations to the building included upgrades to the heating, air-conditioning, and wiring systems, a repair of drainage problems, and the construction of a front entrance ramp to further improve accessibility. Commemorative, engraved bricks, purchased by staff and patrons alike to support the Maze Branch renovation, were installed at the southwest corner of the lot to create a storytime plaza near the existing terrace.

On June 3, 2006, the Adele H. Maze Branch Library re-opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and on November 20, 2006, was honored with a Cavalcade of Pride award from the Community Design Commission of the Village of Oak Park. These annual awards are given to home and business owners of properties that demonstrate excellence in their maintenance and beautification.