Minnesota Carnegie Libraries, A - H

With the advent of the Placeography website, some missing details (primarily pertaining to architects of record) about the Carnegie buildings have been added.

There were 65 Carnegie buildings. I like to think this results from that Upper Midwest mixture of Lutheran socialism and Scandinavian frugality.

You might also be interested in the 'Carnegie Library Tour' of Placeography.


Carnegie library, Aitkin, MN

1908 grant. Claude & Starck are the architects of record, as they were for at least 25 more Carnegie buildings in the Midwest.
Replaced, but contains the Jacques Art Center.

Photo postcard of unknown maker, mailed in 1922, shows a dirt street.

Albert Lea

Carnegie library, Albert Lea, MN (L) Tinted Faber card, prited in Germany, and mailed in 1908.
(R) Amazing photo card by the Albert Lea Souvenir Co., capturing the Beaux Arts/Classical Revival building in all its splendor.
Carnegie library, Albert Lea, MN

1902 grant. Its architects--Schick and Ross of LaCrosse, WI--also designed the Sparta Free Library in their home state.
Replaced in 1968: minor alterations effect its service as an office building.


Austin, MN Carnegie library (L) The older card (L) dates from soon after construction. (R) The landscaping of the newer card looks to be about 3-5 years advanced. Austin, MN Carnegie library
Austin, MN Carnegie library (L) Charming Curt Teich card, printed in 1926. The trees are more mature and an attractive coupe is parked along the curb. Teich gave the plantings a plethora of flowers.

1901 Carnegie Library.
Damaged by a 1928 tornado, remodeled in similar fashion to Downers Grove (IL), 1964. Per Placeography, razed 1996.

The older card has a postmark too blurred to yield a date.


Bemidji, MN Carnegie library (L) This is a 'Photochrome by W.A. Fisher Co., Bemidji, Minn.'
(R) Bloom Bros. card printed in Minneapolis.
Bemidji, MN Carnegie library

1908 grant, built 1909.
Designed by W.D. Gillespie, and is now the Bemidji Community Art Center.

Just like the card shows, the Carnegie building is on the lakefront, which makes its survival even more amazing.

Bemidji's library is part of the Kitchigami Regional Library System.


Benson, MN Carnegie Library (L) Photo post card, copyrighted in 1913. It was mailed later that year.
(R) Theo E. Lee & Son card.
Benson, MN Carnegie Library

1912 grant. Replaced in 1992. Demolished since.


Brainerd, MN Carnegie library

1903 grant: replaced in the mid-1980s. Still standing and part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Woolworth's card, probably published by Curt Teich. Mailed in 1912.


Coleraine, MN Carnegie library

Late 1908 grant: still in use. Designed by Kinney and Halden, but built by the A.C. Thomas Corporation. Someone was quite insistent that one does not take the shortest line between two points to reach the entrance.

L.L. Cook card, mailed in 1949, with some unfortunate water damage.


Crookston, MN Carnegie Library (L) Harry W. Brandow card, mailed in 1909.
(R) Bloom Bros. postcard which seemed to have been utilized for the March 14, 1974 Windy City Postcard Club gathering.
Crookston, MN Carnegie Library

Late 1903 grant. Replaced, but still standing (2008). Part of the Lake Agassiz Regional Library.

Detroit Lakes

One of the Seven Sisters Carnegie Libraries.

Detroit Lakes, MN Carnegie Library Two cards illustrate why you can't rely on linen finish cards for a totally accurate picture of a building. Still, it's a pretty good example of Prairie style. It should be, as a Claude & Starck design. Detroit Lakes, MN Carnegie Library

1911 Carnegie building. Currently a branch of Lake Agassiz Regional Library, as is Crookston.

Minnesota State Historical Society's description concurs. I wish that their photo gallery was a little more extensive. The city website at least gives a current picture.


Duluth, MN Carnegie library Two beautiful pre-WWI postcards. Neither was postally used: both have divided backs. Duluth, MN Carnegie library
(R) 1910 or 1911 Curt Teich 'American Art' card printed for the Duluth Photo Engraving Company. Unusually for a Curt Teich product, photo credit is given (Mc Kinzie). Duluth, MN Carnegie library

1901 grant: built in 1902. Replaced ca. 1980.

A rather pretty building (3 grants dating since 1899) with some stylistic quirks, such as a tile roof coupled with Federal building details, including that dome.
The building appears to be owned by a management firm whose stated goal was to restore the building (web site no longer on line, and domain for sale). I have no independent confirmation of the intent.

The new building is rather scary looking. It has a Rorschach quality: I see an aerial hockey rink. Perhaps you see a ship's prow.


Eveleth, MN Carnegie library

The Hockey Hall of Fame gets a much more prominent place on the city's website. In another gesture of disrespect, the library collection spent some time in Eveleth's high school.

1911 Carnegie grant, built in 1914, expanded in 1924. Still in use.

Architect William J. Sullivan designed more Carnegie buildings, along with the amazing Naniboujou Club Lodge.


Fairmont, MN Carnegie library

Classic Revival.
1903 grant: demolished in 1968. Replaced by the Martin County Library, which incorporates some salvage from the Carnegie building of 1904.

This is yet another of those cards with lurid, unnecessary tinting.


Glenwood, MN Carnegie Library (L) Photo postcard showing no signs of activity. Perhaps taken pre-opening?
(R) Black and White brand card, also never mailed.
Glenwood, MN Carnegie Library

1907 grant: opened in 1908. Per Placeography, its architect was A.S. Foss, from Elbow Lake. Probably not the most challenging contract.
Still in use.

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, MN Carnegie library (L) Original facade of the Carnegie building, built from a 1905 grant.
(R) Real photo, post-1938 WPA modernization.
Grand Rapids, MN library

The rest of the Carnegie building was engulfed between 1968 and 1971. After 2002, occupied by the Carnegie Business Center. Do any of those engineers realize they work in such a historic structure?


1906 grant. Demolished, with a sadly vacant lot and a historic marker all that remains. Hibbing, MN Carnegie library
Hibbing, MN Carnegie library Despite the reverse of this scan, all we know is that it's a 'Glazed Lithochrome Style' card. Aubin took the photo, however, which is clearer than the photo card above.
Either the building is copyrighted, or the circled C above the entrance stands for Carnegie.
Hibbing, MN Carnegie library


Hutchinson, MN Carnegie library

1903 grant: still in use as a library. E.S. Stebbins was its architect.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Probably a Massure postcard; less gaudy than those of its ilk. Mailed in 1912.


Drop that mouse and visit your public library. (Or, if you're viewing this in the library, set the mouse down carefully.) All the following resources were found at a local library.

Bobinski, George S. 1969. Carnegie Libraries: Their History and Impact on American Public Library Development.
Dickson, Paul. 1986. The Library in America: A Celebration in Words and Pictures.
Frye, Lonn. 1992. Carnegie Libraries: Restoration and Expansion.
Krass, Peter. 2002. Carnegie.
Van Slyck, Abigail. 1995. Free to All: Carnegie Libraries and the American Culture, 1890-1920.