Non-Carnegie Libraries in Illinois
Cities A - C

Occasionally, Illinois philanthropists assisted their communities before Andrew Carnegie hit the scene. In some cases (Dominy Library of Fairbury and Mary McCoy Library of McLeansboro), local citizens led the way.
Some of these libraries, however, postdate the grant program, or the cards picture buildings that replaced Carnegie buildings (Highland Park, Des Plaines).


Albion, IL Library

Illinois' first public library.
So far, I haven't found out anything about the schoolhouse-like building featured in this Bregstone photo card.

(H.H.) Bregstone seems to have been renowned for baseball cards, but its library postcards aren't too shabby.


Algonquin City Hall and Library (L) Early scene with photo taken facing east, looking down Algonquin Road.
(R) This is a quite elegant card, considering that it's one from the modern chrome era, and that the photographer must have had a death wish to be able to capture the angle s/he did.
Algonquin City Hall and Library

Comprised the top floor of the City Hall, at the terminus of IL-62, for 55 years (1921-1976). As IL-31, the north-south road, is being widened, this building may be demolished. The 1976 building eventually (2001) became a branch library.

Alton (Jennie D. Hayner Free Library)

Jennie D. Hayner Free Library

Precursor founded in 1852.
Built in 1891, after the 1888 death of Ms. Hayner. Surprisingly, this building is still in use as Alton's Youth Library. Given the youth obsession with things Gothic and spooky, it's an appropriate function.

The early C.T. Photochrom features a quite imposing Romanesque structure. It's a good thing that there's no green space surrounding the library. I'd really hate to mow that lawn!

Amboy (Pankhurst Memorial Library)

(L) Lovely monochrome from C.R. Childs, another postcard manufacturer in Chicago.
(R) L.L. Cook photo card, with some issues stemming from the angle of the sun and its shadows.

Resembles a Carnegie building, but is not.
It is very Prairie, however, and has undergone some alterations.

Anna (Stinson Memorial Library)

From the Dexter Press card:

Stinson Memorial Library was established by an endowment from Captain Robert Burns Stinson who died October 11, 1903. Native materials were used in a design by Walter Burley Griffin, a pupil of Frank Loyd Wright, to use the natural beauty at the site. Twenty five thousand dollars was the cost of the construction.

Quite beautiful card.

Arlington Heights

(L) The Joboul Publishing card shows the 1952 building.
(R) Wm. Means postcard shows the interior of the current building.

Sadly, this is another instance where I needed Wikipedia to supplement direct knowledge.
Established (barely) in 1896 with 150 books. It received official public library status in 1926; but the building on the left, still standing and used as a Teen Center, wasn't built until 1952.
The current building was built in 1968, and has been expanded twice and remodeled thoroughly (and attractively) at least once since the 1994 iteration.


Atlanta, IL Library

And still in use.

Uncommon, unattributed library card, used in 1913 as a 98th birthday card.
Not readily available at Hallmark.

Barry (Brown Library)

This was an extremely difficult card to identify. The 1906 postmark didn't show the state name, and the annotations 'Christian Church' and 'Library' didn't help much. With much squinting, I could barely make out 'Brown Library' above the roof line.
Do you know just how many Brown Libraries there are?

Amazingly, the library, built in 1904, is still in use, according to the Pike County city web site.


This is the first library building, which served from 1902-1921.

The back of this Hugh C. Leighton card, printed in Germany, waxes lyrical about the splendors of Batavia and its environs.
However, its only mention of the library is on the card front.
Never mailed: divided back.

The building pictured includes the post-1960 Miriam Havighurst Children's Room addition: the second building served from 1921-1981.

From card:

Library was built in 1878. Children's room addition added in April 1960. A historic landmark. In the foreground Batavia's Memorial to its Hero Dead.

--Custom Studio, Batavia, Illinois as printed by the Dexter Press.


First Belleville library building

Replaced in 1913 by a rather pedestrian Carnegie building, which appears to have been expanded. Fate unknown.

Downstate Illinois featured a few amazing Gothic libraries. This building seems to have also housed the city hall, which today is also in another facility.

The entire back card, printed in Germany, was mailed in 1907.

Bloomington (Withers Library)

Circa 1907 C. U. Williams 'Photoette' card,
of much higher quality than
most of this highly variable series.
Highly detailed S.H. Knox card. Card appears to date from the 'teens. Tom Jones card.
It's not unusual.

Romanesque building torn down in 1978. It probably took far longer than expected: this was one impressive brick bookhouse.
Note the differences between the library facades as pictured on the cards.


Bradford, IL Library

This is rather unclassifiable architecture. I'm inclined to call it something like 'Flemish Revival,' but I'd probably be way off the mark. Yet, it has its charms. Best yet, it's still in use, but the retaining wall in front of the steps is now painted cement.

L.L. Cook card, dated 2-14-46. It was used in a postcard exchange in 1965, and really sticks out in my collection with that 4 cent magenta Lincoln stamp.


Unevenly divided card
with a 1906 postmark.
Linen-finish card from the '30s. Modern chrome by
Ned's Photo Service of Vienna, IL.

Built in 1883, dedicated in 1884, and still in use. There was a 1962 stack room addition, plus a 1984 Special Collections Room funded by the Oris B. Hastings Charitable Foundation, instead of the city, which was in tough shape by then.

From the newest card:

Dedicated in 1884, the Cairo Public Library's A.B. Safford Memorial Building at 1609 Washington is home to a diverse collection of over 50,000 volumes, including a nationally recognized Civil War Research Collection. The two story, Queen Anne style structure also contains museum quality sculptures, paintings, unique furnishings and interesting displays.


Cambridge, IL Library

Various photos seen online show cleverly planned additions. Where the entrance is on this card, the steps are removed and a semicircular brick section added. The door was replaced by a window. The new extension comes off the side.

Unattributed photo postcard was mailed in 1938 to a collector in Davenport, IA.


Parlin Library

Neither card really shows the library well.
(L) Building obscured behind trees. Appears to be red brick.
(R) Curt Teich 'C.T. Photo Finish' card. I don't know why they called this card series that, as nearly every example looks like a pen and ink drawing.

The Romanesque building dates from 1892 and was superceded in 1957 by the Parlin-Ingersoll Library. The old library was recycled into use as a city building. It almost looks like it was built for that destiny.

Parlin-Ingersoll Library

According to this Dave Lewis Studio postcard, this library is funded from the endowment bequeathed by Charles and Elizabeth Ingersoll, not by taxes. This arrangement is more common in New England than in the midwest.

Why no windows?


Carbondale Library

Previously housed St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, until 1926.
Served as the library until 1957.
Currently used by the Unitarian Fellowship.

Curt Teich 'C.T. American Blue Sky' card dates from 1927, shortly after its conversion.

Carlinville (Susan Dick Library Building)

Susan Dick Public Library (L) Real Photo Post Card of Carlinville's library. There are no clues as to its date, but the lower left corner bears the notation 'BREGSTONE TV NO 27.'
(R) Slightly later photo post card, on Kodak paper. Why the vertical format was chosen is anyone's guess.
Susan Dick Public Library

Built sometime between 1914 and 1927. Replaced in 1997. Fate unknown.

Carlyle (Case-Halstead Library)

Case-Halstead Library

Replacement planned: images on the Library's web page.

The most information comes from the card captiion, which is well nigh illegible.

Case-Halstead Library;
Donated to City of Carlyle
by Eckstein Case, Carlyle, Illinois


Carpentersville Library Neither card does the dark brown brick building, located on Washington Street in Carpentersville, justice. Carpentersville Library

Merged with Dundee library in 1959 to form the Dundee Township Public Library District.
(From the 1962 Dundee Township Library Prochure on the neat-o Dundee Area History section on Illinois Digital Archives.)

2008 photograph by the author

This was my favorite library as a child. It had lovely wood paneling, built-in bookcases, and newspapers mounted in slatted poles. There were real library tables and green-shaded reading lights. (Light is a relative term here.) It wasn't air conditioned, but it was cool even on the hottest days. The maple trees were mammoth by the 1960s. If I recall accurately, the entire children's collection was by the righthand windows, one full range parallel to the foyer, and a short range for smaller children underneath the front windows.
It didn't take a lot to make me happy, as long as I was in a library.

On the defunct site Digital Past there was a very clear early photograph of the building. That maple tree in front looked to be at least 60 years old during the years we used the Carpentersville Public Library.


(L) Card was produced by MWM Dexter.
(R) Card advertising the previous occupant of the library's location, the Curtiss Breeding Service.

A reader, Greg White, filled me in on the Cary Library:

I grew up roughly 100 yards from that library, so I know the story behind it: The area in question is indeed in Cary, Illinois and was owned by the Curtiss Candy Company (who bought it from John D. Hertz of Hertz Rental Car fame). The plot of land was known a s Curtiss Farm #77, and was known for breeding prize bulls and was nationally recognized as the center for artificial insemination programs. In the mid 70's, the surrounding acreage was sold to developers and became the community of Trout Valley. The farm itself was donated to the Village of Cary, and after renovation became a complex that housed the police station, town hall, the Cary Community Center, and the Cary Library. The entrance to the library was through the side of the silo you have pictured on your site. A glass ceiling was installed about 8 feet off the ground, and upon entering the library you could look up at the entire length of the silo from the inside. The address of the library would have been on Stonegate Road. Sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's ..., the library moved to its current location on Three Oaks Road, which is a shame because although it is a much larger facility, it holds none of the charm of the old library.

Champaign (AKA Burnham Athanaeum)

Champaign Public Library Champaign Public Library Champaign Public Library
Postmarked 1912 Postmarked 1910 Postmarked 1907
Champaign Public Library (L) Rather the epitome of library glumth
and cheerlessness, eh? (1905 card).
(R) Hey, where'd my chimney go?
This monochrome card was also post-
marked in 1907, but with a divided back,
it's newer.
And cheerier.
Champaign Public Library

Neither Champaign nor its twin city, Urbana, received Carnegie grants. The featured building having been replaced in 1977, Champaign Public Library again built a new facility, opened in 2008.


Now known as the Vespasian Warner Library. Established 1901. This building was built between then and the 1911 postmark on this card. The Library was expanded substantially in 1992.

The card is another C.U. Williams 'Photoette.' Not all of these cards are imitations of the Curt Teich 'Blue Sky' line. Some are amber in hue.


(L) Superseded by the building to the right.
(R) 1944 Curt Teich card.

The Collinsville Memorial Library Center is now part of the Mississippi Valley Library District.


That obligatory disclaimer

All text is under copyright by the author. Cards are presented for scholarly study: most are significantly older than 1928. You may link, and even deep-link to its pages, but you may not claim any part as your own nor link to individual images.