Library Histories: Cedar Roe

Since its inception in 1952, the Johnson County Library has grown to 13 (soon to be 14) locations! In this blog post we feature the history of the Cedar Roe Library.

By 1965 the Johnson County Library District had reached a population of 165,000. The Library consisted of Headquarters (Antioch), Corinth, Mission, Lenexa, and Gardner. The last three were small storefront branches. The Mission branch had space for about 3,500 books. News stories at the time referred to the crowded conditions as students packed the libraries after school and in the evenings to study and do homework. By 1966 a plan for expansion of the Johnson County Library system had been formulated, and a bond issue went before voters on February 11, 1967.

The $1.5 million plan called for expanding Antioch and Corinth, and constructing new “Northeast” and “Southwest” branches to replace the Mission and Lenexa branches. The package sailed through with a “Yes” vote of 69% of the total vote.

Planning for the “Northeast” library began immediately. A site was chosen about a mile north of the Mission Branch at 6500 Martway. The new library was to be a block west of Roe Avenue on Cedar Street in Roeland Park. A contest was held to name the branch was held and “Cedar Roe” emerged as the winner.

The Cedar Roe Library opened on June 2, 1969. The total cost of the land, materials, construction and equipment was $470,950. The new library had 17,157 square feet, including a balcony originally used for library programs. Today changes in building codes that mandate improved emergency egress have relegated the balcony for use as storage. Dedication of the facility took place on November 16, 1969. The following year, the Cedar Roe Library received the Excellence in Design Medal from the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture.

Since the mid-1990s the Cedar Roe Library has received updating and refurbishing. With the interplay of wood and brick on the interior, Cedar Roe remains one of the most attractive and interesting of the Johnson County Library public facilities.