La Retama girls pose in
Cadillac cars in front of the First Presbyterian Church on
-La Retama Collection
On November 11, 1915, La
Retama Club gave a silver tea in the library for fundraising. The
following year, the club members asked the city council to appropriate $750
toward the library.
The following year, on
August 10, 1916, a fire swept through the building located next door to
Perry Lovenskiold’s office building. Firefighters climbed ladders and
threw La Retama Public Library books out the window, trying to minimize
flammables. When La Retama Club members came running, they climbed the
ladders and insisted that the firefighters stop throwing the books out the
window until they could be gathered up in baskets and taken to safety.
Because of all of the water and smoke damage, the young women dedicated
themselves to washing each individual page of each book with ammonia water
and hanging them on lines to dry. Every few hours the pages were
turned making sure they did not stick together. The loss from the fire
was estimated at around $500 (approximately $8680.64 today).
After the fire in 1916, the
members of La Retama Club work arduously trying to raise enough money to
keep the library open to the public. Among some of their fundraising
tactics were theatrical benefits, public appeal for donations, an ice cream
socials, appropriations from the City Council of Corpus Christi and Nueces
County Commissioners. Yet, on November 30, 1918, La Retama Library
close due to lack of public response. In January 6, 1919, the library
re-opened and five days later, the Rotary Club pledged to adopt the library
and its finances for one year. Then, on September 14, 1919, the
library and the City of Corpus Christi were hit by a massive hurricane.
The hurricane of 1919 claimed over 300 lives and more than 20 million
dollars in property damage. Among the property lost was most of the
holdings of La Retama Public Library.
In December, the remaining
texts were sorted among members for storage at their homes. By January
1920, La Retama Club put a request in the local newspaper that anyone with
La Retama books please return them. La Retama Public Library re-opened
in a room in the Timon’s home on Mesquite Street and then to the State
Hotel, and by October, The American Red Cross donated $500.