The Gates Memorial Library was built in 1917 in honor of one of Port Arthur’s major founders, John Warne “Bet-A-Million” Gates (1855-1910). This two-story Classical Revival building was designed by the New York firm of Warren & Westmore, architects of several New York landmarks, including Grand Central Station.
The library was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and sits on the Lamar State College Campus. It is often referred to as the most attractive academic library in the state of Texas.
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John Gates, a prominent businessman and New York financier, was initially attracted to the Port Arthur area by the local oil boom of the early 1900s.
In 1909, John Gates set aside this land for a library. Initial plans for the project were discontinued after is death in 1911. Five years later, the nearby high school’s library could no longer adequately serve and support the growing city. Through the efforts of Gate’s widow, Dellora (1855-1918) and local residents, the library was completed in 1917. The following year, it was dedicated and deeded to the city.
Gates’ other contributions to Port Arthur include Port Arthur Business College (Lamar State College Port Arthur), St. Mary’s Hospital and the Plaza Hotel.