Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America

Willkommen, dudes!


Also see:
K - R and S - W for the rest of the Wisconsin Carnegies, and Wisconsin Libraries A - M, Milwaukee, or Wisconsin Libraries N - Z for the rest of Wisconsin's public libraries.

Wisconsin Carnegie Libraries, Cities D-J

63 Carnegie Libraries were located in Wisconsin towns. Antigo, Rhinelander, and Waukesha are those with which I am most familiar. Information about other Wisconsin libraries has been taken from the pertinent library's website. In some cases, information comes from Larry T. Nix directly, or from his wonderful website, Library History Buff. In rare cases, information comes from Carnegie Libraries: Their History and Impact on American Public Library Development, by George S. Bobinski. Unfortunately, a few of the smallest libraries have no Internet presence; and libraries with the flashiest sites seem to have no sense of history.


Darlington, WI Carnegie library

Very sharp photo card, never mailed. Probably an L.L. Cook product.

1904 building, now in use as the Lafayette County Historical Society.
This library has a few Tudor touches in the diamond leaded windows and the doors.


Durand, WI Carnegie library (L) Seriously cool Real Photo card.
(R) Less dreadfully tinted (Massure?) card.
Durand, WI Carnegie library

According to the historian Larry T. Nix, the building dates from a 1905 grant and is no longer in use.

Eau Claire

Eau Claire, WI Carnegie library (L) Illustrated Postal Card, printed in Germany.
(R) Hugh C. Leighton card, mailed in 1920.
Eau Claire, WI Carnegie library
An E.C. Kropp linen finish card, printed for Johnson's Ladder Shoe Co., shows the library in the context of its street. To its right is the older city hall, and the YWCA. Close examination shows that by this point, the street is brick. Eau Claire, WI Carnegie library

An atypical Patton & Miller building, built in 1904. Replaced by the L. E. Phillips Memorial Library in 1976. Respectfully converted to, and enlarged, to become Eau Claire's City Hall and Carnegie Library. Much information on this building's architecture is found at Celsus: A Library Architecture Resource.


Edgerton, WI Carnegie library This building had a very unusual configuration, more deep than wide. The post-renovation picture reveals a near-twin on the left side, with a bay window where a doorway would be expected.

Edgerton was the home of author Sterling North. There used to be a billboard on I-90 commemorating that fact. It is also the center of Wisconsin's tobacco industry. I bet you didn't know Wisconsin had a tobacco industry.

Edgerton, WI Carnegie library

Built 1905, renovated 2006.


Elroy, WI Carnegie library Elroy, WI Carnegie library Elroy, WI Carnegie library
I think that this is a
Massure card, but a third color--
brown--was used.
Photo card postmarked 1911. Photo card mailed in 1910.

Summer and winter study in contrast.
1905 grant, 1908 dedication. Remodeled 2000. Still in use.
This is one of several very similar Carnegie buildings in the state: Durand, Kaukauna, Richland Center, Platteville, and Waupaca.

Fond du Lac

Fond du Lac, WI Carnegie library Fond du Lac, WI Carnegie library Fond du Lac, WI Carnegie library
Postcards not in chronological order.

Built with 1902 grant. Its architecture is strikingly different than most Wisconsin libraries, but there are neighborhood building with similarities.

No traces of this building remain in Fondy, but the current library is quite sprightly after its recent renovation.

Note: excellent and helpful reference staff, well-organized local history section.

Green Bay (Kellogg Public Library)

Green Bay, WI Carnegie library Green Bay, WI Carnegie library Green Bay, WI Carnegie library

Built after 1901, utilizing a large ($45,000) grant. Replaced. Kellogg is part of a library system serving Brown County.

(R) E.C. Kropp card also shows the Neville Museum.


Hayward, WI Carnegie library and other city scenes

Built from a 1903 grant. Replaced in 2006. Said to be still standing.

E.C. Kropp multiview card, also showing a dangerous looking high school and an Italianate court house.


Hudson, WI Carnegie library

1903 Carnegie grant. The current function of this rather utilitarian building is unknown.

If one looks really, really close, one can see the keep off signs in the lawn.

This Bloom Brothers card has a jobber's stamp on the reverse. 1000 cards cost $3.75.


Janesville, WI Carnegie library Janesville, WI Carnegie library Janesville, WI Carnegie library

The lefthand card was postmarked 1909; the center, 1907; and the righthand card, 1911.
Many of the Janesville library cards I have seen are similar to the 1911 Acmegraph card.

(LL) Interior view, possibly taken from behind a reference or circulation desk.
(LC) Lovely photo postcard.
(LR) Exterior with aquamarine sky, probably by the same printer.

Janesville is traditionally an industrial city, the home of the Parker Pen. A GMC truck plant then became its main employer. In 2014, I don't know who has that distinction.

Janesville, WI Carnegie library Janesville, WI Carnegie library Janesville, WI Carnegie library
Janesville, WI Carnegie library interior Come on inside for more information.
Janesville's Carnegie Library was built in 1902.
J.T.W. Jennings is believed to have been the architect.
Early on, it became inadequate for city needs,
and was remodeled in 1927 and 1932.

According to its website, the library was totally replaced in 1968, and in 1996 in turn was remodeled into a strange modern edifice, Hedberg Public Library. HPL's site links to a great digital history page, in concert with the University of Wisconsin.


Jefferson, WI Carnegie library

Built from a 1911 grant. Considered by some to be the purest example of Louis Claude's Prairie school library design. (Wiberg, on Celsus).
This was a very small library I remember riding past as a child. We never stopped so that I could go inside. The concept of library district boundaries hadn't sunk in yet.

Fate uncertain.

Author's comments

To the best of my knowledge, the majority of these cards has reached the public domain by virtue of the postcards' age. I claim full copyright on the text, which may be used in citation only. Also, I claim copyright on the scans, although given their quality, you might wonder why.

I hope to update this site as I locate more cards and find more references.