1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 105
Quatrefoil Library, the country’s second oldest lending library of materials related to sexual minorities (the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago was the first), takes its name from the 1951 novel by James Barr, Quatrefoil, which was one of the first to depict gay characters positively. In the mid-1970s, David Irwin and his partner, Dick Hewetson, each began collecting gay-themed books. When they moved in together in 1977, they combined their collections and kept them in the linen closet of their condo, which was soon overflowing with volumes. The two men incorporated their holdings as Quatrefoil Library in 1983, and the first public home of the library opened several years later at 1021 West Broadway. Though their relationship ended not long after the library was incorporated, their important collection of gay literature was able to live on.
The library grew exponentially during its early years and in 1987 found larger, much-needed space at this address (“a cozy set of rooms,” according to one reporter), a former school renovated to house the offices of various organizations. Today, still located at this address, Quatrefoil collects not only books and magazines, but memorabilia, audio and video, games, newspaper clippings, and historical erotica related to sexual minorities. At a celebration in 1991, Quatrefoil‘s author, James Barr, was the library’s guest of honor.
In 2008, the library published its own history; it is available online here.