The Kanab Library was built between 1939 and 1940 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The library is one of 226 buildings constructed in Utah under the WPA and is important in documenting the impact of New Deal programs in the state. Utah was one of the most severely affected states during the Depression, having a 25 percent average unemployment rate during the era. For this reason, the state was ninth among the 48 states for per-capita federal spending.
Although the Kanab Library was founded in 1915, it was not at first housed in a permanent structure but was rather moved around to various temporary accommodations. In 1938, an $8,000 bond election was approved to build a permanent library, and plans drawn by the architect Carson F. Wells were acquired from the city of Salina, which had just constructed a library, The Kanab Library is basically identical to the Salina building and combines features of both the Prairie School and Art Deco styles. Wells’s design combines a symettrical facade with abstract geometrical embellishments which tones down the rigidly formal appearance of the building.
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