Aitkin Carnegie Library, 121 2nd Street NW, Aitkin, Minnesota

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Aitkin Carnegie Library

Aitkin Carnegie Library, ca.1920
Aitkin Carnegie Library, 2007. Photo credit: Elkman
Address: 121 2nd Street NW
Aitkin, Minnesota
Aitkin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1911
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Community Arts and Education Center
Architect or source of design: Claude and Starck
Builder: N.J. Holden
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Ceramic Tile
Material of Foundation: Concrete
First Owner: City of Aitkin
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $6,500

Aitkin Aitkin

Aitkin Carnegie Library, 121 2nd Street NW, Aitkin, Minnesota
(46.5333782° N, 93.7084534° WLatitude: 46°32′0.162″N
Longitude: 93°42′30.432″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: April 16, 1982
Level of significance: Local

The Aitkin Carnegie Library is one of 65 public libraries built in Minnesota with funds from Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation. Between 1899 and 1917, Carnegie, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist contributed close to 1 million dollars towards library construction in Minnesota. This makes Minnesota the eighth largest recipient of Carnegie Library grants in the United States.



On April 23, 1908 the city of Aitkin secured $6,500 from Carnegie to build the Aitkin Carnegie Library. Plans were prepared by the Madison, Wisconsin-based architectural firm of Claude & Starck. Claude & Starck were known for their design of public libraries and together designed 25 libraries in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six of which were in Minnesota. The contractor who won the bid was local Aitkin resident, N.J Holden. The library was completed and opened in 1911.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Aitkin community had to provide a suitable site and were expected to tax themselves at the annual rate of 10% of the grant amount. This requirement imposed by Carnegie ensured a long-term commitment for the purchase of books, staff costs and maintenance of the library building. The land was donated by Mrs S.H. Hodgeden who owned a house opposite the library.

Located on a prominent corner site, the Aitkin Carnegie Library now functions as the Jacques Art Center - a community arts and education center.

Building Description

The Aitkin Carnegie Library is a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement defined by a stone water table. Faced with buff-colored brick, the building rests on a concrete foundation and is covered with a low-pitched, hipped red tile roof. The symmetrical, temple-like facade is a reference to classical architecture and is a common characteristic of Carnegie Library design. The projecting entrance porch has two slightly recessed columns supporting a simple triangular pediment. The emphasis on the entrance space creates a grand opening to the interior of the building. At the time of construction the interior finish was predominantly Flemish oak and included the shelving, casings, picture molding, desk, tables, chairs and a large 'grandfather's clock'. The librarian’s desk was located in the center of the building and the first librarian to serve in this Carnegie library was Miss Esther Seavey. [1]

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