Library Postcards:Civic Pride in a Lost America

Adrian Public Library on poem card

This Post Card to you dear friend
In place of a letter I send
What you may like better,
a fat newsy letter
To write before long I intend.

Much information came from a pleasant discovery, Terwilliger's Carnegie Libraries in Michigan, now offline. Other sources include various pages and, of course, Bobinski's 1969 Carnegie Libraries.

 Carnegie buildings of Michigan

Carnegie funded libraries are featured on this page, with the exception of Detroit's branch libraries, for which records are not entirely clear. Detroit, therefore, has its own page, and Non-Carnegie buildings are on the Michigan Libraries page.


1904 grant. Cornerstone laid in 1907. Opened in 1908. Closed in 1978.
Since 1980, in use as the Lenawee Historical Society Museum.
(How I adore the work of the members of, whose site delivered this information.)

The poetry card above also features the Adrian Carnegie Library.


Allegan, MI Public Library Allegan, MI Public Library Allegan, MI Public Library

1913 Carnegie grant. 1986 expansion. Info courtesy of the Allegan District Library's web site.

In 2009, we visited Allegan, and I insisted on stopping and photographing its library. The traffic signs do not enhance the photos.

© 2009, Judy Aulik © 2009, Judy Aulik © 2009, Judy Aulik

 Ann Arbor

No one seems to be able to find a good angle to shoot the library from.

1903 grant, replaced in 1957. Incorporated into the UM campus.

 Armada Free Library

Library established 1901. Late 1913 grant. Opened April 3, 1915. Expanded, 1984-5.

The 52-6 notation on the card does not mean the photograph was taken in 1952, as the photo card was mailed in 1941.

 Benton Harbor

Postcards of the old Benton Harbor Carnegie library have a rather posed, but whimsical, charm about them. The card to the right also features the No. 2 Reserves. However, the band looks the most menacing of the bunch, especially the baritone sax player to the upper left. Any man who can march with that monster could conquer a small country.

1902 grant, demolished since.
It may be just as well. If you read the history of the library on its web site, you'll learn that its precursor went up in flames. This building was hit by a car twice, one ending up in its childrens' room. (I don't think the car on the card (L) was it.)
Finally, as the new library was being built in the 1960s, the old building's wall collapsed.

Both these cards have a certain informality about them, although the ladies in pink do look as if they're wondering where the bride went.

 Boyne City

1916 grant. RPPC card mailed in 1948. Still in use as a library.


1910 grant. Still in use as a library. Along with Quincy, part of Branch District Library.


The 1903 building now serves as the Wexford Historical Museum.
The library is now known as the Cadillac Wexford County Public Library, and even has 4 branches, small they may be.

Overall, the color Van Vranken German card (L) is rather, ahem, ugly. But it does have some neat details such as a tiny red striped drape inside the window (or perhaps a flag?), and a lovely stained glass inset over the entrance door.
The E.C. Kropp card (C) is a bit more attractive, but only the monochrome card shows the secondary entrance to the right of the stairs.


1908 grant. Replaced in 1977, but still serves as a local history branch of the Cass District Library.

The card is a local production by O.L. Yerty, who was also believed to be a healer, recorded on several sites related to the Church of God.


1907 grant. The card has a slight green tint in reality.


1902 grant.
Positively exuberant masonery, both real and imagined.

The building now serves as a law office. The replacement library is huge!


by J.R. Johnson

1908 grant. Replaced with an attractive brick building that looks like a Carnegie building for the new millennium.

Today the Carnegie building also serves as office space, and may become a cultural center.

(L) 1914 photo card by J.R. Johnson, who seems to be a better photographer than many.
(R) The linen finish card is one of E.C. Kropp's finest.


Early 1903 grant.
A city subscription library predated the public library. It's still in use, with a very odd front.

Early E.C. Kropp postcard, never mailed.


Built in 1903. (No, not every Michigan Carnegie library was built in this year.) Replaced in 1992, but I have no information as to the current status of the Carnegie building.
Part of the current building actually looks like it's the Carnegie building, sans dome.

(L) The card was made for F. S. B., whoever that was. It was mailed in 1920.
(R) L.L. Cook photo postcard shows a State Fair advertisement on the bicycle, and a tiny 'No Parking' sign near the tree.


Late 1902 grant. Demolished sometime since then, probably in practice for the death of the auto industry.

(L) Depressingly bare trees in front of a grey library.
(R) Note the hitching posts across the street from the library building.

Why yes, I did see 'Roger & Me.' What made you ask?

© 2007 - 2013 Judy Aulik
Uploaded 29 April 2007.
Divided 08 January 2010.
Updated 26 February 2013: Detroit has its own page, since some of its buildings were Carnegie funded, and others, not.
G - Z.
Michigan Libraries.