Carnegie Libraries in Illinois

La Grange to Winchester, so far: Illinois Carnegie libraries from alphabetically impaired localities comprise this page.


1904 - 1969

Quality control at Curt Teich was a little off on the day this card was made. Everything is slightly askew and the tree on the left extends into the border. But the mad awning striper had her day in the sun, by golly. The arched awning has its red and white stripes.

Visit the public library's website for the history of this lovely building (and another postcard).

 La Harpe

Completed in 1906 and still in use.
The library's website is very simple. A three person library doesn't really need to go to extremes, does it?

Photographer is L.W. Butler, but the publisher of the card is unknown.


1907 Carnegie building, still in use.

Check out the library's Then and Now site.


A 1906 Moratz building. I think Paul was growing bored of domes by this point.
(L) Beautiful German card, imported and published by J.R. Grafton of Lewistown. Unevenly divided back.
(R) Monochrome card by Curt Teich, mailed 1940.

I can find no web site for this facility, but it is indexed on several functional library sites.


Monochrome card by Curt Teich. Scan slightly retouched.

Typical Carnegie Library.

According to the Bials, the grant came in 1901. The library, which seems small for the city, was renovated in the 1970s.


1904 Carnegie grant. Paul O. Moratz installed an iffy concert hall on the second floor. If Andrew Carnegie gave the thumbs up to a bowling alley in a Pennsylvania library, why would the concert hall have been so questionable?

Lefthand card postmarked 1910, and produced by the Art Mfg. Co. of Amelia, Ohio. This is one of the nicer hand coloring jobs in my collection.

An extra attraction to Litchfield is that it's a Route 66 town. That and a Carnegie building: what more can you want?


Carnegie building occupied since 1904. Instead of enlarging it, a Children's Library was built in 1980. They are connected via a hallway and two rooms. That's a sensitive compromise.

The postcard was mailed in 1910. I can't make out the publisher's name, but it was made in Germany. Doesn't the library's cupola look like a pickelhauber?


Check out the Marion Carnegie Library site! This is probably the most sensitive renovation I have seen yet on an old building.
Built 1915; expanded 1997.

Oh, and the postcard: E.C. Kropp out of Milwaukee.


1904 grant: tan brick building, expanded in 1938, after these cards were made.

(L) Very early Curt Teich card, in poor condition, postmarked 1907.
(R) Early monochrome Curt Teich 'C.T.Photo-platin' postcard.
Scan converted to black and white, since the card is a rather peculiar green. No data available as to whether the building is still in use: the library's web page consists of less than one screen!
Those who grew up in the Chicago area may remember Marseilles as the former source of weather radar.


<--Before the Mattoon Gasser
                      After the Mattoon Gasser-->

(L) Early divided back, published by the Mattoon News Co. Publishers.
(R) C.T. American Art card, mailed 1954.

No historical info found on the library site, but the Bials state that the building was dedicated in 1903. They also comment that this library lacks a full basement. Perhaps if it had had one, it might have needed a smaller footprint for the purpose.


The library is the lefthand building, stemming from a 1904 grant. The city hall, on the right, has been replaced by the library annex. It's a huge building for the size of the Chicago suburb today.


Sent in 1919, card features a classic Carnegie library which was built in 1904. According to the city's website, it is still in use--similar to Antigo's (Wisconsin) outdated building--as the Hume-Carnegie Museum.


Grant accepted 1905. This postcard, sent 1948, must not have been a best seller. Milford is not a flashy tourist destination in the best of times.


At last I have the straight scoop on Moline's public library. Of course, it's just in time for the Carnegie building to be replaced.
Please visit the Moline Public Library site, .pdf file linked above, to read the entire story.
Built 1904, renovated due to advanced deterioration 1964, funded for new building 2004.
A pleasing symmetry, isn't it?

 Mt. Carmel

1911 Carnegie Library condemned in the 1960s and replaced in 1970. E.C. Kropp post card.

 Mt. Carroll

1905 grant.
Andrew Carnegie, about this building:

It is one of the few libraries I have given in which there was no graft in building.

Both the above, and the fact Mt. Carroll built its library before its city hall, make sense when considering this was the original home of Shimer College. Originally a seminary (and with an interesting campus remnant), now featuring the rare 'Great Books' curriculum, it has moved to Chicago.

Way prettier in reality than on this monochrome card.

 Mt. Vernon (C.E. Brehm Memorial Library)

Left side card postmarked 1923. but appears older: Right card is linen finish. Both are from the C.T. 'American Art' series. Building was completed in 1905, and is still in use after nearly a century.

An excellent history of the building and of the C.E. Brehn Memorial Public Library District is given on the district's website.

 Naperville (Carnegie Hall)

Naperville's public libraries got their start from J. Nichols, a Northwestern Business College professor who passed away in 1895 and left $10,000 to his beloved town for a library. However, the library on this card is not it.

Naperville's Carnegie Library was built in 1908 as part of Northwest Business College's campus. (Now North Central College).
Confused? I sure was.


1903 grant.

Decorative glass above the front door helps distinguish this rather mundane library building. Despite its bland appearance, it did make the Illinois Historic Preservation list.

This is a 'Competition Proof' Weixelbaum card, published in Lima, Ohio. I don't know about the veracity of the claim, but it sure beats the monochrome card I had posted before.


Correction: confirmed as a 1907 Carnegie building by Bial and Bial.
I had to rely on a church website to learn that this building is still in use. I did find out from the library's site that the library was formed in 1858 (impressive!) and that the district encompasses Ridgeland Township (Iroquois Co.).

This is a Real Photo card, with the helpful comment written on the back, 'Onarga in 1910.'


Charming take on the Carnegie style.

Today, Pana's public library is known as the Carnegie- Schuyler Library, which induces the fear that this delightful building is gone.

The card itself is an unusual "C.T. Blue Sky" Curt Teich post card.


Postmarked 1955. This library is still officially named 'Paris Carnegie Public Library,' according to its website. It was established in 1904 with the help of an $18,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. In 1992, it required an addition to serve the community.


Built in 1903, Paxton Carnegie Library is still in use, albeit in a gently remodeled state. A recent photo is on their website, and their website's history link reveals that the building was designed by a local architect, Paul O. Moratz, of Bloomington.
Raymond Bial and Linda LaPuma Bial chose this library to feature on the cover of their University of Illinois Press book, The Carnegie Library in Illinois. To me, it'd come down to that or Sycamore (also a Moratz design).


1903 - 1974

I can only describe this as 'Carnegie goes to the Wadhams gasoline station.' Although I know Wadhams never reached central Illinois, I can't say the same about Carnegie. The tile roof had an Asian feel, which is appropriate for the city. The dome had small windows, which was an unusual touch. Dentil trim is a common feature on Carnegie buildings, but not on every edge! I'm surprised it wasn't added to the steps.


Another Patton and Miller Carnegie Libary, built between 1903 and 1904, and still in use. (Polo is not a large town.)
Not evident from the first Real Photo card, but seen on the library's website, is its red brick construction. The postcard illustrates the entrance quite well, however.
The photograph on the second card is sharper, and newer, but leaves obscure the roofline over the entrance.

 Rochelle (Flagg Twp. Library)

Raymond Bial's photography does a much better job capturing the details beneath the eaves than did the left hand card. So, of course, purchasing another card (right) became necessary. The Carnegie Library in Illinois informs us that Flagg Township Library is a Carnegie Library designed by Claude and Starck of Madison, WI. This is a lovely Prairie- style building included on the National Register of Historic Places (1973).
Every other piece of info on the place is available on the Internet, however. except this text:

The Flagg Township Library of Rochelle, Illinois, a Carnegie Library, was built in 1912. The building was designed by Louis Sullivan of the firm of Claude and Stark and was placed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 1973. The library houses over 26,000 volumes and is open 56 hours a week.

--House of Photography, 628 N. Lincoln Hiway, Rochelle, IL 61068


1906 postmark. Entire back.1912 postmark.
Note red hand-coloring of dome.
Date unknown.
Dome is left untinted.
1910 postmark.
Untinted dome. Clearly evident are either shingles or else seams in the roofing material.
Postmark probably 1919.
Dome tinted magenta.
1906 postmark. Kropp card image monochrome with print in red. Unusual view from southwest corner. Snappy linen card by E.C. Kropp.
For years I believed the smaller building on the first cards, which is still standing, was the Carnegie building. Rockford's main library is in a pleasant, but undistinguished building. It was finished in 1962, and engulfed the Carnegie building. However, I was unable to tell which section it comprised until the SW view revealed that the front had been modernized and another storey layered on the top. The river views make RPL a lovely place to spend time, which the homeless population of the city has also discovered.
Scan retouched to fill in rounded corners.
Dome tarnished aqua.


Completed in 1905 after a bit of a cost overrun. Still in use (2005). In real life, I mistook this building for a post office. In my defense, I didn't acquire this card until 2007.

 Springfield (Lincoln Library)

1904 - 1974

According to Leigh Kimmel, on the Leviathan's Libraries site, this was the library which provoked Andrew Carnegie into specifying practical structures. She states about this building:

The architecture of the Lincoln Library, like so many Carnegie libraries of the early period, was a chaos of columns and wasted air space, incorporating sixteen distinct architectural styles.

Carnegie himself did not want his name on the building.

Abe was in no condition to protest.


(L) Unusual angle shot of the Carnegie building, showing evidence of another, rear wing. There is no clue to the age of this card.
However, the card on the lower right has a postmark of 1908. There is a pile of stones to the left of the building. On the other cards, it looks as if there is a building close the the left of the library. Because of that, I think that the third card is the oldest.

(R) This angle picks up a very small mailbox.
A straight-on view is on the library's website.

Apparently the building is still in use.


Built 1903.
Visit this building through the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency webpage.

(L) 'this is a gift of Andrew Canargie.'
So Mrs. Clice Shell was informed in 1907 on the left hand card printed by the 'Ind-Times P'T'G & Eng. Co.'
(R) The other card, published by the F.W. Kirby & Co., informed Ada that Roy was spending a few days with Effie.


Built in 1905, apparently with the same plan as Greenville's building. Just a heads-up: this library is red.
Very red.

Still in use, albeit with at least one large addition. The library's website is beautifully designed; the addition, less so.
Sycamore is one of Illinois' Lincoln Highway cities, and lies just east of DeKalb.


Building status unknown: the library has no website. Other library sites indicate there is still library service in the community.

German card, imported and published by M.J. Hogan of Taylorville. Sent 1913.
It looks like there's something missing on this building, but I can't figure out what.


This tiny, drab library was built in 1903 in what looks like a less-than-prosperous neighborhood. It doesn't seem as if the unknown, probably German printer did a thing to improve the photo.

Imagine my surprise to find out it is still in use a century later, having undergone a 1997 ADA-compliant renovation, and a total renovation in 1998.

 Upper Alton (Shurtleff College)

The caption on the post-1911 card states:
New Carnegie Library, Upper Alton, Ill. Shurtleff College in background. Carnegie Libraries in Illinois, covering only the public libraries of the state, does not list this building or mention the grant.

Alton's Hayner Library indicates the Carnegie building was part of Shurtleff.

Today, Shurtleff College's campus is part of the SIUE Dental School. The college closed in 1957, after 133 years as a Baptist Institution. I can't imagine that its campus would have converted easily to its new function.


Confirmed as a 1911 Carnegie building, built by Patton and Miller. Still standing in 1991, according to the Bials' book.

This postcard has it all. It had even more before I realized the object to the right of the water tower is a street light suspended from overhead wires, not an airplane.
Divided back card by C. R. Childs of Chicago.


History from the Bials' 1996 book.
Final Carnegie grant received in 1903: superceded in 1965. Building used by local YMCA until 1980. Abandoned, but still standing in 2007.

These two cards are very similar, appearing to have shared origins in a single photograph. The color card was produced by the Simplicity Co. of Chicago, but there is no publisher's or photographer's information on the monochrome card.

The publisher of this card is also unknown.

The building in the righthand background was a hotel, per correspondent Douglas Winston. It may have been the 'Elmore.'
The next building beyond was a Chicago Northwestern R.R. station. Both have been razed.
The function of the lefthand building is unknown. Its sign ends in SON.


1903 - 1951

The city fathers must have been positively apoplectic when they saw this card (around 1907). Gack, it's hideous. On the back is written (1909):

Hello Charlie, This is the new library in Wilmette on the corner of 12 str and Wilmette Ave. ...

Wilmette Public Library serves Kenilworth and Wilmette on Chicago's North Shore.


Carnegie building built in 1910 on land donated by Mrs. Percy Grout. I don't know why that fact tickles me so. Sometime between the time the card photo was taken, and 1991, when Bial and Bial's Carnegie Libraries in Illinois was published, a large addition was built on the lefthand side of the building.

This building is absolutely modern in appearance, and still is, thanks to the sensitive renovation. I could easily imagine living in this building. It looks as if the picture was taken fairly soon after construction was finished in 1910. The card was mailed in 1913.

Illinois Carnegie Libraries Listed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

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


Illinois Public Libraries Illinois Carnegie Libraries, A-K Wisconsin Carnegie Libraries Home

That obligatory disclaimer

All text is under copyright by the author. Cards are presented for scholarly study: most are significantly older than 1928. 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.

©2003 - 2008 Judy Aulik

Updated 01 March 2008.

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