Today’s Roosevelt Library is a New Kind of Gathering Space
Roosevelt Library was the second public branch library built by the City of San Antonio in 1929. The library operated until 1968 when a larger branch library was opened nearby. For several years, the building served as the offices for the Police and Fire Pension Fund. In 2012, native San Antonian Leland Stone purchased the library building, completed a masterful restoration, and dreamed up some big ideas for its future.
Stone is the owner of Stone Standard, which sells hardware, lighting, and plumbing fixtures in San Antonio and throughout the United States. This business tradition runs in the family. Stone’s great-great grandfather, Joseph Deutz, first opened a hardware store in San Antonio on Main Plaza in the 1850s. First and foremost, Stone wanted the Roosevelt Library to serve as a showroom for Stone Standard, where chaste door knockers, solid marble sinks, and English soaking tubs are displayed like art in a museum.
But Stone had even bigger plans for the Roosevelt Library. Instead of limiting access to Roosevelt Library to clients of Stone Standard, Stone opened it up as a dynamic gathering space and event venue. He founded the Roosevelt Library Social Club, a private club with members from many walks of life who meet every other Monday evening for dinner prepared in the exquisite custom chef’s kitchen. In addition, Roosevelt Library’s unique space frequently hosts events for local non-profit organizations, helping to raise awareness and providing exhibitions, education and fund–raising opportunities.
On the main floor he created the exclusive one-seat Matador barbershop, adorned with Sevres urns, antique giltwood mirrors, and Cole & Son silver wallpaper on the ceiling. Each patron of the barbershop has a personal shaving brush and is pampered by a third-generation San Antonio barber skilled at the straight razor shave. On the lower floor, one room serves as a showroom for San Antonio–owned Limatus Bespoke which provides custom suits, jackets, and shirts.
And then there’s the art. Roosevelt Library is home to the Gabriel Prize Exhibit, one of the largest collections of original watercolors of French architecture by American artists and architects. The Gabriel Prize was originated and funded by George Parker beginning in 1991. This newly installed exhibit rotates quarterly. Roosevelt Library also hosts other art exhibits which, along with the community outreach of the Library, showcase Stone’s commitment to art, people and downtown living.