Carnegie Libraries in Illinois, A - D

Des Plaines Carnegie building, Des Plaines, Ill.

Illinois communities tended to know a good thing when they saw it: hence, many accepted Carnegie funding.
The 105 state Carnegie library count does not include college libraries (North Central, Monmouth), but appears to include the Danville VA's Carnegie library.
As I approach finding cards of all the cities, I have had to divide this page once more, into A - D and E - G; H - M, N - R, and S - Z.

Part of:

Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America


1903 Carnegie grant, built 1905. On the National Register.

The main construction of this building resembles that of Tuscola, Illinois. Note the dome.
It also says 'Arcola Public Library' along the sides of the triangular space above the entrance.

Arcola Public Library I wonder if the garage in the background of the card on the left belonged to the library, and if so, what was it used for. I don't think this photo was taken that much more recently than the 1905 opening. Arcola Public Library


Aurora, IL Carnegie Library Built on an island in 1904 from a 1901 grant,
according to the Bials.
You can see the Fox River site on the card at right.
Aurora, IL Carnegie Library
Aurora, IL Public Library Aurora, IL Public Library Aurora, IL Public Library
(L) It was sent in an unusual manner:
the embossed postage from an envelope
was cut out and pasted to mail it (1906).
(C) An attractive dead-on view. (R) Post-apocalyptic view?
Aurora, IL Public Library Spot the differences between these F.P. Schickler postcards. Aurora, IL Public Library
Aurora, IL Public Library Aurora, IL Public Library Aurora, IL Public Library
(L) Ivy creepeth.
Who knows what season it is in the Hemisphere of the newer cards?
(C) The pink tree looks like a flowering crab.
The trees to the right are changing for the autumn.
The card was published by Paul P. Vogel Co., of Chicago.
There seems to be some reason why I had never heard of them prior to adding this card to my collection.
(R) The rightmost card is a classic linen-finish card.

Remodeled from 1942 - 1958. Remodeled again in 1969, receiving its 3-story wings.
By 2011, a new location on IL-31 was been chosen for a new building. This building--the Richard & Gina Santori Public Library--is opening in June, 2015.
According to the Chicago Tribune of 24 May 2015, if the Carnegie building is not repurposed by June, 2016, it will be demolished.


Beardstown, Il Public Library Beardstown, Il Public Library Beardstown, Il Public Library Beardstown, Il Public Library
Newvochrome card, mailed 1910. Apologies for this 1910 card.
Its color scheme was a touch suspect
even before someone took it to a tea party.
Mildly attractive sepia tinted card. Card features the Beardstown City Hall and the library,
perched awkwardly on a high foundation.

1903 Carnegie grant, built 1904. Replaced in 2000.
In my opinion, the new Beardstown Houston Memorial Library is prettier than the old. I'm not a total Luddite.


Belvidere, IL Public Library Belvidere, IL Public Library Belvidere, IL Public Library Belvidere, IL Public Library

Belvidere is one of only 4 Illinois libraries to earn a section in Heart of the Community: Libraries We Love.

Built in 1913, remodeled in 1985, and still in use, Ida Public Library looks much the same as on the postcards. You can spot it from the original U.S. 20 (Grant Highway; Blue Star Highway) route, North State Street, in Belvidere.

Although the same architects (Grant Miller, of Patton and Miller) built Ida Public and the Freeport Carnegie Libraries, they are strikingly different. In reality, Ida Public looks strongly Prairie-style.

Blue Island

Blue Island, IL Public Library The RPPC seems to have been photographed later than the left hand card, but a lot of linen cards and similar have had a lot of license taken with the image. The Real Photo card has attribution: Genuine Photograph C.R. Childs, Photograph Post Cards, Chicago. Blue Island, IL Public Library
(R) This card was published by G.R. Richter, and has the code, 49-14. It was mailed, however, in 1909. Richter appears to have been a Blue Island pharmacist. Later, his advertisements appear in the Jewish Sentinel, published between 1911 and 1949 (courtesy of the Illinois Digital Archives). Blue Island, IL Public Library

1903 - 1970
This wasn't one of the finest examples of a Carnegie Library. Both images indicate stone construction, perhaps extracted from local limestone quarries.

The current library stands on this site.


Carmi, IL Public Library

Carnegie money received in 1914. Despite the late date of construction, this is one of the more Prairie-influenced Carnegie libraries. It was to move into a new facility in the 1980s, according to the Bials, but the Carnegie building was still in use until 1999.
Today the Carnegie building houses the Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library of the White County Historical Society.

The Curt Teich postcard was mailed sometime after 1938.


Carrollton, IL Public Library (L) SL & Co. card, mailed in 1908.
(R) Photo postcard, probably made by Bregstone, mailed in 1931.
Carrollton, IL Public Library

1901 grant. Opened in 1903. This is one of those buildings that could be a post office, a library, or what have you.

A photo on its former web site showed that the exterior had not changed one whit. The Library seems to no longer have web presence beyond an old Facebook page.


Centralia, IL Public Library (L) Earliest card: unevenly divided back from Acmegraph.
(R) 1937 postmark on an older N.C. Baker card. Centralia is far enough south that this building took on an antebellum appearance.
Centralia, IL Public Library
Centralia, IL Public Library Centralia's Carnegie Library started off looking normal in this early card. Notice the size of the trees.

Then came the atomic age. The eerie pink glow over the roof may have presaged the A-bomb scare of the late '50s. The right hand card, published by the Southern Illinois News Company of Christopher, Illinois, has a older feel to it than the 1954 postmark indicates.

Centralia, IL Public Library

Dedicated 1903; nearly destroyed in a 1936 fire; additions built, 1970 - 1972.
Note the different shades of brown used for the bricks among the cards.


Charleston, IL Public Library 1901 grant, in use with additions, the latest in 2008. Charleston, IL Public Library

Chicago Heights

It's called a standpipe. This early German postcard illustrates just why all the other manufacturers chose a different angle
to immortalize the building.
(Below) View showing Post Office, Public Library and C. & E. I. Depot,
Chicago Heights, Ill.
Chicago Heights, IL Carnegie library Chicago Heights, IL Public Library Chicago Heights, IL Public Library

Carnegie building opened September 11, 1903, at 1627 Halstead Street. Superceded 1972. Demolished 1974.

History from library's web site, except for one teensy fact: the demolition.


Carnegie Library, Chillicothe, Illinois

1915 Carnegie grant.
Built 1917. Replaced in 2005, with the old Carnegie building currently housing a bookstore.

(L) Lovely hand-colored Albertype produced for Smith's Drug Store. Bonus: Overland car dealer in the background.


Danville, IL Public Library Danville, IL Public Library Danville, IL Public Library
Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art'
Grogan Photo Company card,
postmarked 1943.
Raphael Tuck card,
printed in Great Britain.

This is the Danville Public Carnegie Library, built 1904. Typical building, except for its tile roof. Raphael Tuck and Sons (R, above) attempted to make the roof more exciting yet.
Already insufficient by 1911: failed to obtain more funding from the Foundation.
Currently used as the Vermilion County War museum. The building has been entered on the Illinois Register of Historic Places. Building replaced and was closed on 9/30/95, according to the history contained in the library's web page.

Danville VA Library

This is the other Danville Carnegie Library.

Danville, IL VA library (L) C.U. Williams 'Photoette' brand postcard. Danville, IL VA library

Above the door is the date of 1906. Besides these facts, the VA Hospital library is perhaps the least known Carnegie library in the state. Per the Groganchrome card, printed in Danville:

Library, Veterans Administration Hospital
Danville, Illinois
Located two and a half miles east of business district of city, comprising 322.08 acres, on U.S. Route 136 and four miles west of Indiana state line. 131 miles south of Chicago and 86 miles west of Indianapolis, Ind.

There is no date nor postmark to give a clue about the age of this card. I have been informed that the building still stands.


Decatur, IL Public Library (L) Card mailed 1910. Strong resemblance to Aurora's Carnegie Library.
(R) Never mailed: publisher uncertain.
Decatur, IL Public Library

Built 1903: in use for 70 years according to the Decatur Genealogical Society's website. Bial and Bial state that it was demolished in 1970 due to renovation cost projections. Then the library moved into a 'thoroughly remodeled former Sears, Roebuck store.' In 1999, the library moved to its current building, which certainly beats a Sears store.
Such is life.

A shout-out to the Decatur library's history page, and the vastly improved web site!

Delavan (Ayer Public Library)

Ayer Public Library

At first I wondered why this library made the IHPA list.
Then I realized that the building is intact, except for some interior renovation.

Founded in 1907, with assistance from the Ayer brothers, the Carnegie grant was received by the library in 1914.

C.R. Childs postcards are a Chicago product which captured the state in exquisite detail. Sometimes either a Childs card or a Childs photo postcard is the only visual record of a historical building.
At least in this case, we still have said building.

Des Plaines

Des Plaines, IL Carnegie library Des Plaines, IL Carnegie library Des Plaines, IL Carnegie library
Wm. G. Hoffman card. By P.L. Huckins. Here comes one of the most homely cards I've ever seen.
Actually, publisher Wm. G. Hoffman did an adequate job with printing the picture, but the border looks like his shirt got in the way.
Mailed early in 1913; from Mishawaka, Indiana to Alameda, California by a woman in the throes of the grippe.
Perhaps this card looked good to her at the time.

This is the first Des Plaines library, built in 1907 from a 1906 grant. It was torn down in the late 1930s in favor of a new city hall, which held the library collection in one wing. Visit my non-Carnegie Library page for Illinois to see its replacement. Again, the Carnegie building was better--and perhaps, a touch larger.
The current building is thoroughly impressive.

Downers Grove

Downers Grove, IL Carnegie Library Downers Grove, IL Carnegie Library Downers Grove, IL Carnegie Library Downers Grove, IL Carnegie Library
New Public Library,
Downers Grove, Ill.
1924 postmark. 1932 postmark.
Card embossed:
'Delmar Photos Elmhurst, Ill.'
Curt Teich postcard.
'Public Library, Downers Grove, Illinois.
A beautiful public building serving a
modern progressive community'
Downers Grove, IL Carnegie library, remodeled ca. 1961 L.L. Cook card.

This DuPage County library building was completed in 1915, cruelly remodeled in the late 1950s (as seen above), torn down in 1975, and replaced in 1977. The new building, in its turn, was extensively modified in 1999; and as I write this, is currently under renovation.

Illinois Carnegie Libraries Listed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

At this point, the only way to see the non-linked libraries is to visit the pertinent IHPA site.

That obligatory disclaimer

All text is under copyright by the author. Cards are presented for scholarly study: most are significantly older than 1923. You may link, and even deep-link to its pages, but you may not claim any part as your own nor link to individual images.