Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America

One would not think that 63 Carnegie libraries would require a third web page, but they do. This section begins with Shawano and goes through Wauwatosa, currently.

Carnegie Libraries of Wisconsin
Cities S - W


Shawano, WI Carnegie library

1914 grant, per Bobinski (1969). Replaced in 1960. If you Google that original address, 121 East Green Bay Street, the Carnegie building is gone. So's the library's history page.

This 'un's a plain Prairie baby. The only visible decorative element is in the brickwork columns. And they skipped the lights of wisdom flanking the entrance.
Somehow, I think Andy wouldn't have minded.

E.C. Kropp card, craftily imitating the Curt Teich 'Blue Sky' line.

 Sheboygan (Mead Public Library)

Sheboygan, WI Carnegie library Sheboygan, WI Carnegie library

Built in 1904: replaced in 1974.
99 and 44/100% razed to make way for the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which whimsically retained part of the facade.

E.D. Deuss is the official publisher of the sidelong card, but I see the 'ECKCo' of the E.C. Kropp Company from downstate. The other view is from S.H. Knox.

Sheboygan, WI Carnegie library

Tuck Post Cards (British products) can be absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful. This example was printed in Saxony. However, most scenes are of larger cities, not little Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Behold the Tuck rendition of the Sheboygan Carnegie building!
And I hope the artist had a nice vacation.


Sparta, WI Carnegie library Sparta, WI Carnegie library

Slightly Italianate and Richardsonianesque touches on the Carnegie prescription. According to the library's web site, Schick and Roth were the architects of record. Built in 1902. Added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1981, but enlarged in 1982.
Still in use, and recently spruced up.

Both cards by E.C. Kropp of Milwaukee.

 Stevens Point

Stevens Point, WI Carnegie library Stevens Point, WI Carnegie library

1902 Carnegie grant.

Stevens Point has always had a reverence for arcane knowledge - I think. Then I look at the Carnegie building. Even though this is central Wisconsin, they oughtn't've celebrated its heritage with a silo dome and barn ventilator.

Stevens Point's library history is a little difficult to fathom. Currently there is a Portage County Public Library, of which Charles M. White Library is a part. Yet, its web site is hosted by UW - Stevens Point.
The Library occupies an old department store in the downtown. Very interesting reuse.


Stoughton, WI Carnegie library Stoughton, WI Carnegie library

Built 1906 to a Claude and Starck design: carefully renovated in 1990 by the Potter Design Group.
Stoughton's library is still in use: nearby Madison enables a level of service impossible when a collection is restricted by available space.
(L) Postmarked 1909.
(R) Published by the Depot Restoration Committee:

Stoughton Public Library
Fourth and Main Streets
Stoughton, Wisconsin
The original Carnegie Free Library, constructed with $13,00.00 from the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, was dedicated in March, 1908. A 12,000 sq. ft. expansion costing over one million dollars, plus $400,000 in donations, was completed in late 1990, preserving the past and making a statement for the future.

 Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay, WI Carnegie library Sturgeon Bay, WI Carnegie library Sturgeon Bay, WI Carnegie library

(L) 1911 Carnegie building lurking under tons of vines.
(C) Vines beginning their tactical assault.
(R) Library au naturel.

No longer functioning as a library.
Looking at the left hand card, I can't help cringing at the thought of bats in buns.


Tomah, WI Carnegie library Tomah, WI Carnegie library

A 1916 deluxe Claude & Starck building, built from 1915 grant monies. Possibly still in use.

(L) E.C. Kropp card.
(R) According to this card's purchaser,
'This is where the Whitfield House used to be-'
I have no reason to doubt her.

(R) Imitation 'Blue Sky' card distributed by the Schultz Bros., possibly the midwest dime store chain.

 Two Rivers (Joseph Mann Library)

Two Rivers, WI library

Replaced by the Lester Public Library in 1995.

1914 Carnegie grant. This Louis Sullivanesque building replaced the original Joseph Mann Library and was extensively remodeled over the years. I hope they didn't wreck the lovely entrance.

Its current function is unknown.

RPPC, mailed in 1914 to librarian Mrs. Cushman of the Reedsburg Public Library. 'Trivers' must have been all over that Carnegie money as soon as it came.


Viroqua, WI Carnegie library Viroqua, WI Carnegie library Viroqua, WI Carnegie library

Viroqua, WI Carnegie library

Carnegie grant: 1904. Facade essentially obliterated in 1975, according to Larry Nix, library historian.

The library does not apparently have a web site, but knowing the latest card was sent in 1956 does make one suspect time's a bit slow in this city. Too bad it wasn't slow enough that someone would have realized that they had a little architectural gem.


Washburn, WI library Washburn, WI library

Still in use: built from a 1903 grant. I believe this is the northernmost Carnegie building in Wisconsin.

(L) E.C. Kropp card, never mailed.
(R) L.L. Cook photo card shows the details of the masonery.


Watertown, WI Carnegie library Watertown, WI Carnegie library

By using the number and spacing of its windows, compare the size of this library to that of Stoughton, a city of approximately the same size 100 years ago; and to that of Waukesha, which was a booming spa town at the turn of the century. How did Watertown do so much more with its funding? Today, Watertown Public Library is actively seeking to expand its facility.

The Carnegie Library was built in 1907. Further history is available at the Watertown History web site. The lefthand card was mailed the same year, and the library looked like it was still under construction , an observation with which the site concurs. Note the lack of people and the solitary fire hydrant in the lower right hand corner.
The righthand card gives you people and palm trees.


Waukesha, WI Carnegie library Waukesha, WI Carnegie library Waukesha, WI Carnegie library

Today it's hard to distinguish the original Carnegie building from the additions updating Waukesha Public Library. The latest was completed in 2005. The 1904 section remains as one of the nicest reading rooms around, with extensive newspaper holdings and historical displays. But natural disasters have not been kind to Cutler Park which surrounds the facility. A freak windstorm uprooted many of its stately oaks in 1998. Building damage was limited, unlike that in its neighborhood.


Waupaca, WI Carnegie library

Very similar to the Durand and Kaukauna Libraries.

This was built using a 1913 Carnegie grant, and is no longer in use as a public library.
However, the Holly History and Genealogy Center occupies the Carnegie building today.


Waupun, WI Carnegie library Waupun, WI Carnegie library Waupun, WI Carnegie library

According the the library's website, this is one of 3 Wisconsin public libraries to trace back to its city's library association. According to Nix, it received its Carnegie grant in 1904. I guess one can't expect 100 years of gratitude.
Building in use as the Waupun Heritage Museum.

As an aside, it takes a special lunacy to hand color the hydrangeas to the left of the entrance in yellow and orange. For stark graphic realism, see the RPPC on the right.


Wausau, WI Carnegie library Wausau, WI Carnegie library Wausau, WI Carnegie library
'Made expressly for The Fair' 'The Leader' 'J. Rohde, Pub.'

Although the Carnegie grant came in 1903, this library looks as if it might have been built as a WPA project, especially in the card on the right, above.

Wausau, WI Carnegie library Wausau, WI Carnegie library Wausau, WI Carnegie library

Three pre-psychedelic era linen finish cards. I guess you had to send them all to share the full experience of the Wausau Public Library.

The right-hand card, postmarked 1946, salutes the quality of maintenance of Wausau's municipal buildings. Indeed. Someone must have been hard at work to produce such a profusion of flowers in northern Wisconsin. Couldn't be another happy retouch artist, could it?

A 1974 merger left the Wausau branch as the flagship of the Marathon County Public Library.


Wauwatosa, WI Carnegie library Wauwatosa, WI Carnegie library

1905 - ?

(L) Postmarked 1909. Published locally by the Lefeber Bros., this card featured an extremely unusual library which resembled a large home, albeit a Neapolitan flavored one.
(R) German card published by A.C. Bosselman & Co., sent 1907. Its colors are a bit more plausible.

Today, Wauwatosa Public Library is in a large downtown building, last remodeled and expanded in 1992. It has no website that I could find, just the page on the county system's website.

Carnegie Libraries Other Public Libraries Combined Libraries
WisconsinA - J    K - R    S - W Wisconsin   A - L    M - N    O - Z Minnesota
A - D    E - G    H - M
   N - R    S - Z
Illinois   A - F    G - Z Canada
Indiana   A - G    H - Z Indiana New York
Ohio   A - C   D - M   N - Z Ohio Pennsylvania
Iowa   A - C    D - L    M - O    P - Z Iowa Northern New England
Kansas and Nebraska Dakotas ME - NH - VT
Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas Michigan Michigan Southern New England
Left Coast Carnegies MA - RI - CT
Other states Other states Romanesque

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. Most of the troublesome scans are of early works, not linen-finish cards.

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

© 2003 - 2013 Judy Aulik

Uploaded as a subdivision, 02 July 2008.
Revised, May 2013.