Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library, Broadway Avenue and 2nd Street, Browns Valley, Minnesota

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Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library

Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library ca.1920
City/locality-
State/province
Browns Valley, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Traverse County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1915-1916
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Builder: McClure Construction; Local Labour
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Browns Valley
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $5,500

Browns Valley Traverse

Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library, Broadway Avenue and 2nd Street, Browns Valley, Minnesota
(45.5952707° N, 96.8311039° WLatitude: 45°35′42.975″N
Longitude: 96°49′51.974″W
)
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: August 15, 1985
Level of significance: Local


The Browns Valley Carnegie 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.

Contents

History

On January 31, 1914 the village of Browns Valley secured $5,500 from Carnegie to build Browns Valley Carnegie Library. Plans were prepared by the Village and submitted to the Carnegie Corporation for approval. Although McClure Construction was appointed as the contractor a dispute between McClure and the library board occurred well into the construction of the library. No settlement between the two could be made and so the Browns Valley Carnegie Library was completed with local labor and officially opened in 1917. The first librarian to serve in the Browns Valley Carnegie Library was Mrs. Catherine Mulroy. [1]

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Browns Valley 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. Residents of Browns Valley strongly supported the library and civic groups such as the Progress Club, the Interlochen Club and the American Legion all contributed by fundraising, soliciting private donations, and cataloging books. The land allocated for the library building was the site of the ca. 1870s Episcopal Church which was moved to the east.

The Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library served as the public library until 1997 when a new Browns Valley Public Library was built on a different site that same year. The Carnegie building is now used as storage space for the Browns Valley Historical Society.

Building Description

The Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library is a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement faced with stucco. The building has a flat roof with a modest parapet that extends beyond the projecting cornice. The exterior is faced with contrasting light brown and cream colored brick which is laid in a highly decorative pattern around the entire building. The main façade consists of three bays with a slightly projecting central entrance. The entry way is highlighted by striated brick pillars and is topped by a triangular parapet. The decorative brickwork of the Browns Valley Carnegie Library effectively draws attention to particular architectural features such as the corner pilasters, frieze and panels beneath the rectangular window openings. The words 'Carnegie Public Library' appear on a panel above the doorway and below three geometric patterned windows. A simple ornamental feature is the open book located at the center of the triangular parapet with the date '1915' inscribed in the pages. [1]

The Browns Valley Carnegie Public Library has had few exterior alterations aside from the change of windows in the 1960s. Interior refinishing occurred during the 1940s with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor and further renovations took place in the 1960s.

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