Grand Rapids Public Library, 21 5th Street North East, Grand Rapids, Minnesota

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Grand Rapids Public Library

Grand Rapids Public Library ca.1938
Grand Rapids Public Library ca.1940 after WPA alterations
Address: 21 5th Street NE
City/locality-
State/province
Grand Rapids, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Itasca County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1905-1906
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1938: Remodeled by Works Progress Administration.

1971: Remodeled by architectural firm Williams and O’Brian.

Major Alterations: Alterations more apparent than original
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Office
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Grand Rapids
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $10,000

Grand Rapids Itasca

Grand Rapids Public Library, 21 5th Street North East, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
(47.2370082° N, 93.5270922° WLatitude: 47°14′13.23″N
Longitude: 93°31′37.532″W
)


The Grand Rapids 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 19, 1905 the city of Grand Rapids secured $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Grand Rapids Public Library. Once the plans were prepared, bids were called in May 1905. Over the course of the year the building was constructed and in February 1906 the Grand Rapids Public Library opened to the public. The first librarian to serve in the Carnegie building was Mrs L.W. Huntley.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Grand Rapids 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 Grand Rapids library board purchased six lots on 5th Street East from local resident E.J Farrell.

The Grand Rapids Public Library has undergone many alterations over the years and was re-modeled extensively in the 1930s and 1970s. The Carnegie building served as the public library until a new library facility was completed on a different site in 2002. The former Grand Rapids Public Library building now functions as the Carnegie Business Center and is occupied by SEH Engineering. However it is unrecognisable when compared to the original Carnegie library constructed 1905-1906. [1]

Building Description

The Grand Rapids Public Library was originally constructed as a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised stone basement. The building was faced with brick and trimmed with stone. The structure was covered with a low-pitched hipped roof and large ball finials adorned the corners of the roofline. The main facade consisted of a central entrance flanked by three bays on either side. The portico had a full pediment supported by four free-standing Doric columns which led to a semi-circular arched doorway. This symmetrical temple-like facade was a common characteristic found in Carnegie Library architecture.

In 1938 two large reading rooms were added under the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A) and a new street level entrance-way was constructed. During this period the classical elements were stripped from the exterior to create a more austere Art Deco styled façade although decorative bas relief carvings were added under the windows on the front of the library. Further changes occurred to the building after a bond issue for $140,000 was accepted by Grand Rapids voters in 1968. This expansion was designed by architects Williams and O'Brian and was completed in 1971. By this point the new library design almost totally enclosed the original Carnegie building making it hard to identify any similarities with the former 1905-1906 structure.[1]

Memories and stories

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Related Links

Itasca County Historical Society website

Itasca County Historical Society – Facebook Page

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