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).
Ostensibly Art Deco building built in 1930 and dedicated in 1931. You can't really tell from this (L) postcard.
Curt Teich could make a corncob look Deco.
(R) Oh, how the mighty have fallen. One of the last Teich cards, published in 1981, shows more of the street (and a couple of ugly cars) than the library.
Visit the NIU digitization project page for more history.
Who was this Haish?
Jacob Haish, 100 year old barbed wire co-inventor, died in 1926, bequeathing the monies for the library. On the right is a shot of his home.
Des Plaines Public Library's website is a work of art, as is its new building. The website even gives a complete and concise history. However, I was stymied as to which library this card featured, since the web page has no photos.
Recently, the Des Plaines Patch published a history of the Carnegie building, which was replaced in 1936. The municipal building on this card was built from WPA funds, and in turn, demolished sometime after 1958.
Dixon's public library was built in 1900, and shows features from the last century's Romanesque style. Its long history is summarized on the library's web site. At one point the library contained an apartment for the custodian. I am unaware of any other library building that can make this claim.
One would like to think that President Reagan had spent some time with the collection.
(L, above) Elite-Suhling postcard.
(R, above) Unattributed monochrome card.
(L) Hugh C. Leighton product, essentially the same as the card above it, except for the woman driving a car.
(R) Dexter Press product shows the extension on the right and new landscaping.
Still in use. Strongly resembles the old Carnegie library of Des Plaines, which was designed by George W. Ashby.
The unattributed card was mailed in 1911, and bears the architectural information:
Kesson White - John Haniben
Nertney Building - Ottawa, Illinois.
(L) This card is known as a 'pioneer' or a Private Mailing Card, and bears the notation
'Authorized by Act of Congress-May 19, 1898.' I hope I look so good at 113!
(R) Unattributed postcard, mailed in 1910.
I don't have any authoritative information on this building. I have heard rumors that it's one of many abandoned buildings in the city. It moved out of one building-- possibly the one pictured--and into another between 2001 and 2004.
Barely visible on the card is lettering on the ground floor windows indicating
that the space was occupied by a wholesale grocer. I assume the upper floors comprised
(L) A British Tuck card. Note that all the hurly-burly of the city has been air-brushed away.
(R) The card was dated June 10, 1910.
|Where the rest of America had Andrew Carnegie,
Elgin had the step-sons of condensed milk magnate Gail Borden.
Despite a second storey addition in the 1930s, and a wing abutting the neighboring building, by 1968,
the featured building was outgrown,
and a new library built several blocks away on the Fox River.
In 2003, the river side building in turn was superceded.|
The old red brick library was used by the Ackemann Department store in the '70s for a hip junior store. It then went through several iterations as a restaurant.
I have been informed that the building is now a private residence.
<-- Linen-finish Curteich-Chicago 'C.T. American Art' postcard which shows the main facility.
Chrome finish Artvue card that shows the addition.-->
The Wilder Mansion facility was superceded by a new building in October, 2003. The addition to Wilder Mansion was removed in a restoration.
This library causes me a quandary. It's a non-profit library, not
library, opened on New Year's Day, 1905. Yet, it serves
a locality, not special interests.
Its rather tragic origin is detailed on its home page.
The Real Photo card (L) was mailed, as a Christmas card, in 1907. Real
Photo cards don't exactly strike me as Christmassy.
(R) Early Curt Teich card mailed 1909.
G - N O - Z
|Illinois Carnegie Libraries,
A - D E - G
|Illinois Carnegie Libraries,
H - M N - R S - Z
|Wisconsin Carnegie Libraries
Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America
|Other Public Libraries||Richardson Romanesque Libraries|
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.
©2003 - 2013 Judy Aulik
Separated from Carnegie libraries of Illinois, 27 February 2006.
Divided on 19 May 2012. Updated in April, 2013. Return to the home page.
Continue on the rest of the tour.