The unusual residential scale of the Oakland Public Library’s Montclair branch allowed it to blend in with the modest cottages of this once-bucolic district. Designed and built by contractor C.C. Rosenberry and opened in 1930, the library’s swaybacked slate roof and unusual catenary entrance arch bear a notable resemblance to some earlier works of architect W. R. Yelland. The building’s design was widely admired, with the April 1930 issue of Progress declaring: “Like the Montclair firehouse...this new structure is absolutely new in its architectural conception.”
The library’s construction was funded by Chauncey W. Gibson, a wealthy Oakland resident who had made a fortune in the manufacture of carbonic gas for soft drinks. Gibson had no heirs; his only son had died as a child, with his wife following a year later. He thereafter dedicated his life to philanthropic efforts. Described as “gruff in manner, (but) kindly in heart,” Gibson joined his wife and son a few months after the library opened, at age 90.