Brainerd Public Library, 206 7th Street N, Brainerd, Minnesota

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Brainerd Public Library

Brainerd Public Library ca.1910
(Former) Brainerd Public Library, 2006. Photo credit: Elkman
Address: 206 7th Street N
Brainerd, Minnesota
Crow Wing County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1903-1905
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: Rear brick addition added (date unknown)
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Office
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Brainerd
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $12,000

Brainerd Crow Wing

Brainerd Public Library, 206 7th Street N, Brainerd, Minnesota
(46.3583397° N, 94.1991144° WLatitude: 46°21′30.023″N
Longitude: 94°11′56.812″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: May 23, 1980
Level of significance: Local

The Brainerd Public 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 January 6, 1903 the city of Brainerd secured $12,000 from Carnegie to build the Brainerd Public Library which was constructed between 1903 and 1905.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Brainerd 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 of Brainerd purchased the land for the library from William A. Spencer in July 1903 for $1000. The first librarian to serve in the Carnegie library in Brainerd was Miss Zella Burgoyne.[1]

The Carnegie building served as Brainerd's public library until a new public library was built in 1986. In 1995 the former library was renovated and used as law offices. In 2010 a change of ownership occurred though the library will continue to be used as an office building.

Building Description

The Brainerd Public Library is a one storey Classical Revival style building. The exterior is faced with beige brick masonry and has a raised basement of rusticated pink granite. The building form consists of a projecting entry way flanked by three symmetrical bays with rectangular windows. The simple pedimented roof with two gentle slopes is topped with a prominent central octagonal dome. Classical design influences include a pedimented portico with four Ionic smooth granite columns and a garland-and-swag motif situated in the tympanum of the pediment. Another feature is the use of decorative brick quoining around the building, particularly at the corners. The monumental temple-like entrance is characteristic of Carnegie Library design. At some point a more modern addition in matching brick masonry was constructed to the rear of the building, though this is not visible from the main facade.

In the 1990s Brainerd's Carnegie library building was retrofitted and renovated for use as offices. The alterations also enabled some restoration of original features. For example, the central domed circulation area was restored by re-opening the skylight, re-encasing the columns and restoring ornamental plasterwork. Upgrades of the electrical, plumbing and heating assisted in the successful re-use of the former Brainerd Public Library.

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