Austin Carnegie Library, 201 2nd Avenue North West, Austin, Minnesota (Razed)

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Austin Carnegie Library

Austin Carnegie Library ca.1915
Austin Carnegie Library ca.1940
Address: 201 2nd Avenue NW
Austin, Minnesota
Mower County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1904
Year razed: 1996
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1964: a split level wrap-around addition was built around the Carnegie Library to provide additional space.
Historic Function: Library
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Stone
First Owner: City of Austin
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $15,000

1996: Demolished to build new library

Austin Mower

Austin Carnegie Library, 201 2nd Avenue North West, Austin, Minnesota (Razed)
(43.6683028° N, 92.9761163° WLatitude: 43°40′5.89″N
Longitude: 92°58′34.019″W

The Austin Carnegie Library was 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 October 3, 1901 the city of Austin secured $15,000 from Carnegie to build the Austin Carnegie Library. This amount was increased from the initial grant of $12,000. The first library in Austin was known as the Ladies Circulating Library which was established in 1869 by the Ladies Floral Club. The Ladies Floral Club was a society that had two objectives: the study of Floriculture and the establishment of a Circulating Library. To achieve their goal of setting up a library the Floral Club sold seeds, bulbs and plants to raise funds to buy books. Books were kept in the homes of three of the initial members. With the solicitation of its members and with assistance from influential men of the town the Floral Club wrote to Carnegie and successfully gained approval for funding. When the Carnegie Library was opened, the Floral Club donated the 3500 books it had accumulated over the previous 35 years.[1]

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Austin 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 City set apart the lots on the corner of Bridge and St. Paul Streets (1st St. NW & 2nd Ave. NW) for the library site.

The Carnegie building functioned as Austin's public library until it was demolished in 1996 and a new public library was built. The site of the original Carnegie library is now a parking lot. The original stone panel with the name of the 'Austin Carnegie Library' is embedded in the grounds of the current library.[1]

Building Description

The Austin Carnegie Library was a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement. The exterior was faced with light colored brick and was most likely trimmed with stone. Situated on a corner section the design of the building was angled to accentuate the view from the street front. The main building façade had a prominent entrance flanked by three symmetrical bays on either side. The main entrance consisted of three arched bays each separated by Ionic pilasters and was topped by a decorative parapet. The bays on each side of the main entrance had three rectangular windows and a full pedimented front with a circular carved motif in the tympanum. The Austin Carnegie Library had many classical style architectural elements including quoining, ball finials atop the entrance-way and a decorative entablature.

In 1928 the city of Austin was hit by a tornado which killed 3 people, injured many and damaged or destroyed a significant number buildings. The library sustained some damage but was able to be repaired. During the 1960s some major alterations and additions were carried out on the Carnegie building. In June 1964 a split level addition was completed; this new building wrapped around the north and east sides of the old structure and the public areas of the 1904 building were remodelled and expanded to almost double the original floorspace. In acknowledgment of their ongoing support and involvement in the Austin Carnegie Library the Floral Club's gift for the 1960s addition was a kitchenette and large historical display case. The new Austin Public library was completed 1996 - the same year the Carnegie library building was demolished - and is located at 323 4th Avenue, NE, Austin, Minnesota.

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