A New Building, A New Start
The bond election was set for April 2, 1957, and included $250,000 for a public park, $100,000 for the new library, and $75,000 for a county airport. The cost of operating the library was estimated to be $12,000-$16,000 annually, which could be obtained by adding only 10 cents per $100 valuation in taxes. The local newspaper noted in an editorial that the public library in Kingsville had fallen 10 years behind the times. In addition to the city contributing operating expenses, the county would continue to contribute $100 a month, and the Woman's Club would continue their annual cash donation. The bond issue passed by a vote of 1,126 to 445. Additional gifts for the development of the building were soon forthcoming: $12,500 from the King Ranch, $5,000 from Humble Oil, $5,000 from the Kleberg Historical Society, $2,500 from Central Power and Light, and $1,000 from H.E.B. The architects for the new building were the Corpus Christi firm of Milton E. Lorenz and Horace B. McCord, and it was decided to construct the new library one block to the North and East from the original Robert J. Kleberg Library rather than razing the original building. The contractor who won the bid was Hoyt Mertens with a low bid of $76,161. The new building was dedicated on August 9, 1959. John E. Conner, a professor of history at Texas A&I University, served as master of ceremonies. State Representative Ben Glusing introduced Dr. Van Chandler, poet laureate of Texas, who read a poem of dedication for the occasion.
After 30 years of service as the public library the old building was abandoned. The Kingsville City Commissioners conveyed the land and building to the county, which in turn tried to return it to the Kleberg Town and Improvement Co. which had made the original grant. Robert J. Kleberg Jr., President of the King Ranch, released any claims to the land to the county, and it was sold eventually to private individuals. In 1980, it was sold to the Epiphany School Education Foundation, which hired Roberts and Roberts Construction Company to restore the building to use as part of a private middle school. The "old" Robert J. Kleberg Public Library had become a science laboratory, kitchen, and "Bishops Common" - a meeting room, center for social activities for the students, and a reading room. - From "Texas Libraries" Vol. 43, Number 4. By Leslie Gene Hunter - 1981.