Merrill, Wisconsin's Library History

Late 1950s chrome post card

The day we visited on our 2010 vacation, much of Merrill had detours and demolition, unlike during the glory days pictured to the left. But worse yet, as I began encoding this page, Merrill was hit by a tornado. In order to take these photographs, I had to do a lot of clambering, detouring, and tripping over road ruts. I hope you'll find this page worth it.

History adapted from the library's history page.

'Chrome' postcard dates from the late 1950s or early 1960s. At this point, the City Hall still was inside the Romanesque building.

 The City Hall Years, 1891 - 1911

9-19-2010 photo of WSHS plaque

Plaque text:
Merrill City Hall

Incorporated in 1883, Merrill built
this City Hall in 1888 - 1889 for
$16,275. The building was designed
by architect T.D. Allen of Oshkosh,
Wisconsin in the Richardsonian-Romanesque style
and was constructed of local brick, sandstone,
and virgin timber. From 1891-1911
the City Hall housed one of northern Wisconsin's first three libraries.
The building served as the seat of city government until 1977. It
was listed in the National Register
of Historic Places in 1978.
Erected 2000.

Street and sidewalk construction is clearly visible in the picture background.

Merrill City Hall photo by Judy Aulik Merrill City Hall

T.B. Scott Library may have been the first Wisconsin library (1905) to conduct English classes for immigrants.
(L) Photograph by the author in September, 2010. At this point, the building contained the City Hall Apartments.
(R) Postcard mailed in 1911.

You may notice that the tower lacked a clock for at least 99 years.

 The Carnegie Building

T.B. Scott Free Library is regarded as one of the best in the nation in its size classification. Named for the first mayor of Merrill, a lumberman who also served as a state senator, the library received $10,000 from his will as seed money. His son, Thomas B. Scott, Jr., donated an equal amount for materials in 1926. No wonder it's not named after Carnegie.

9-19-2010 photo of WSHS plaque

It received its Carnegie grant on December 13, 1907 according to Bobinski, but the library's history page gives a 1909 date. The latter appears to be more probable, as the library opened in August, 1911.

This is one of the 'Seven Sisters' of Prairie school library buildings. Other Wisconsin libraries include Clintonville and Evansville. Flagg Township Public Library in Rochelle, Illinois, and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota are also Claude & Starck designs.

The Carnegie building had had two additions: the first, in 1969, by Foster & Shavey of Wausau; and the second in 2000, by Frye, Gillan, Molinaro Architects of Chicago.

Plaque text:
T.B. Scott
Free Library

This building (1911) is an outstanding example of library design in 'Prairie School' architecture by Claude and Starck. The library was established (1889) through a bequest from T.B. Scott, lumberman, legislator, and Merrill's first mayor, and was located in the City Hall untill 1911. It was the first public library to conduct English classes for immigrants (1905) and one of the first 'traveling libraries' (1898) in Wisconsin.
Erected 1974.

2010 photo Judy Aulik 2010 photo Judy Aulik 2010 Aulik photo: closeup of frieze
T.B. Scott Free Library These photos show how the 2000 wing meets the Carnegie building. Best view of the decorative frieze.
2010 photo Judy Aulik 2010 photo Judy Aulik
An omnipresent construction barrel seemed to impede every shot.
I couldn't move them, as a custodian was working on the building.

©2011 Judy Aulik
Part of Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America.