Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America
Kansas Carnegie Libraries

Emporia Public Library

Abilene - Iola

In 1985, Allen Gardiner had his excellent resource The Carnegie Legacy in Kansas published by the Kansas State Library. Obviously, you can't walk into Barnes & Noble and get a copy, so Mr. Gardiner's work is available online at


Abilene, KS Carnegie Library Abilene, KS Carnegie Library

Late 1905 grant; late 1908 opening, probably owing to an early form of urban renewal needed to clear the designated space.
First addition, 1933. Second addition, 1977. Total renovation, 2009.

(L) RPPC with annotation on back:

These cards are Walter Forney's work. (I)t is sure a good view of the Library.

(R) Rather pretty ca. 1907 postcard, printed in Germany for an New York firm, and distributed by A.L. Duckwall.

Abilene, KS Carnegie Library Abilene, KS Carnegie Library

(L, below) L.L. Cook photo card, never mailed.
(R, below) Drawing, probably from the architect, published by C.L. Hubbard & Co. as a postcard. Mailed in August, 1908.


1908 Carnegie grant. Built in 1911. Replaced in 1995. Still standing as of 2012.
Multi-angle views at an NPS site.

Photo postcard shows the dirt street and a horse trough.

 Arkansas City

Arkansas City, KS Carnegie Library Arkansas City, KS Carnegie Library

1906 Carnegie grant. Replaced 1980: fate unknown.

The library's history is on an Arkansas City website. Currently, the library is housed in the former post office building. It seems strange that a post office in ca.12,000 person town is more appropriately sized for its library.

(L) This card was sold by S.H. Kress. The library is clearly labeled:

Presented to the people
19 of Arkansas City by 07

I guess you have to extrapolate a little for the meaning.

(R) 1968 Curt Teich chrome postcard. By this time the library was over 60 years old and still handsome.


1910 Carnegie grant. Built in 1912. Added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1987, but replaced in 1994.
Now part of the Coffey County Library.

My copy of this card was a salesman's order card for the Sexichrome brand, another of those marques which I suspect to be a Curt Teich product.


Chanute, KS Carnegie building Chanute, KS Carnegie building

Dedicated 1906: sometime along the way, the tower was removed, essentially destroying the Romanesque appearance. (Not many Carnegie libraries were built in this 19th century revival style.)

The library is still in use.

(L) Entire back card produced shortly after the building's completion and mailed in 1906.
(R) The tinted card postdates 1907.


Cherryvale, KS Carnegie building Cherryvale, KS Carnegie building

Not just a mall in Rockford, Illinois.

1912 grant: opened 1913. Still in use with very limited hours.
Another utilitarian library, but the windows are rather attractive.

(L) Photo postcard, date uncertain.
(R) This postcard seems to confirm the hypothesis that 'Black and White' was another Curt Teich brand, as this 1929 card has 'C.T. American Art Black and White' written in the center divider on the reverse side.

 Clay Center

Clay Center, KS Carnegie building

Late 1909 grant. Still in use, but a major renovation is in the offing. Seems, however, that the 1912 plans are missing. A little overzealous weeding, perchance?
Utilitarian building that is rather ochre, not gray.

Commercialchrome card.


Concordia, KS Carnegie building Concordia, KS Carnegie building

Grant from 1907: building completed 1909. Building outgrown by 1969 and eventually replaced.
Now houses the Cloud County Historical museum.
Notice the stone blockwork which presages the 1950s, when lannon stone facings reached a near-craze in the Milwaukee, and to a lesser extent, the Chicago suburbs.

(L) Card mailed in 1925. Someone in the Commercialchrome retouch department thought this winter shot needed to feature willows and roses.
(R) Unattributed glossy card.

 Dodge City

Dodge City, KS Carnegie library

Gardiner calls this 1905-7 building 'Free Style' or 'Free Eclectic Style.'
I call it the spiffiest use of cement west of Wright's Unity Temple. I haven't seen a post-1937 picture: Dodge City snagged a WPA project to build an addition.

This is a Fred Harvey card. I imagine there were parts of the West where the library was the most exciting structure.


Downs, KS Carnegie Library

Downs' current population is 910, according to the page from whence my information comes.
It is said to be one of two Carnegie libraries in the state not built in a county seat, and one of the two smallest.

1905 grant: still in use, and intact.

The card was printed in Germany and mailed in 1914.

 El Dorado

El Dorado, KS Carnegie library El Dorado, KS Carnegie library

A Classical Revival building designed by John F. Stanton and built in 1912.
Replaced, and turned into offices in 1987.

(L) This is not a photo postcard, but a quality print of a lovely library of dressed stone.
(R) This Curt Teich American Art postcard was mailed in 1919.


Emporia, KS Carnegie library Emporia, KS Carnegie library Emporia, KS Carnegie library
Fred Harvey card with divided back.
Note the total lack of landscaping.
E.C. Kropp card, never postally used. Possible E.C. Kropp product.

Built in 1906, after the persistent Mrs. Amanda Wicks, librarian, decided in 1901 to pursue a Carnegie grant. The building was replaced in 1979, and now houses the Lyon County Historical Museum. Furthermore, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 Fort Scott

Ft. Scott, KS Carnegie library Ft. Scott, KS Carnegie library

1901 Carnegie grant: built in 1902. Second Renaissance Revival building on National Register of Historic Places.

Apparently this building is still in use.
Dear Librarians:
You can celebrate that fact.

(L) German post card, printed for the Souvenir Post Card Co. of New York.
(R) This sepia monochrome card by an unknown publisher was mailed in 1910.

 Garden City

Garden City, KS Carnegie library

1909 grant. Moved from the Carnegie building to the old post office in 1964. Became the Finney County Public Library in 1983, prior to a new library facility being built.


Goodland, KS Carnegie library

Built in 1913. Replaced in 1975. Now the Carnegie Arts Center.

Per Gardiner, the special 1909 election that brought it into existence was one in which women were allowed to vote. Goodland was also another of those towns that didn't want to take 'tainted' money.

C.T. Blue Sky card from 1935.

 Great Bend

Great Bend, KS Carnegie building

1906 grant: 1908 Eclectic Neoclassical building.

Does Eclectic = shoddy roof? Persistent water damage to the second floor doomed this Carnegie building in 1963. There must have been a lot of pondering--and mold growth--going on, because it took until 1971 until its demolition.

Commercialchrome card was used as a salesman's record. In 1923, 2000 cost $6.00.

 Hiawatha (Morrill Free Library)

Hiawatha, KS Carnegie building

1906 grant: 1907 building, slightly wider than the standard Carnegie plan. Renovated in 1967.

More photos on a Hiawatha pictures web site.

Photo postcard mailed in 1910.


Hutchinson, KS Carnegie library Hutchinson, KS Carnegie library

Opened in 1904.
In 1946, became the Union Labor Temple and the library moved to a new building.

You can't help but wonder what monstrosity was cropped from the left side of the photograph.


Independence, KS Carnegie Library

Opened 1907. Air conditioned 1956 (hey, it's important to me!). Still in use.

Beautiful 'LITHO-CHROME' card printed in Germany for the South-West News Company, Kansas City, Mo. Never postally used, it must date before 1914.


Iola, KS Carnegie Library Iola, KS Carnegie Library Iola, KS Carnegie Library Iola, KS Carnegie Library

1906 - 1966

Slightly unusual design.
Gardiner states that it was built of concrete blocks from a local cement factory. Perhaps that savings enabled it to be large for the size of its community. Still, it was outmoded by 1965.
(L) Early divided-back card, sent late 1907. Notice the size of the trees among the three cards.
(LC) Probable C.U. Williams 'Photo-ette' card, mailed in 1914.
(RC) Card sent 1912 by Ina C., who was 'tatting a streak.'
(R) Impressive photo card sent 1913.

© 2003 - 2014 Judy Aulik
Divided 10 November 2013.
Updated 10 January 2014.
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