Moorhead Public Library, 102 6th Street South, Moorhead, Minnesota (Razed)

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Moorhead Public Library

Moorhead Public Library. Photo courtesy of: Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Minnesota
Address: 102 6th Street S
Moorhead, Minnesota
Clay County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1905-1906
Year razed: 1963
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Historic Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Milton E. Beebe
Builder: William H. Merritt
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Foundation: Stone
First Owner: City of Moorhead
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $12,000

1961: Moorhead (Carnegie) Public Library closed when new public library built on different site. 1965: Moorhead (Carnegie) Public Library demolished.

Moorhead Clay

Moorhead Public Library, 102 6th Street South, Moorhead, Minnesota (Razed)
(46.8738149° N, 96.7708747° WLatitude: 46°52′25.734″N
Longitude: 96°46′15.149″W

The Moorhead Public 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 February 29, 1904 the city of Moorhead secured $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Moorhead Public Library. The total grant was increased to $12,000 once an architect and site had been secured. Plans were prepared by architect Milton Earl Beebe of Fargo, North Dakota and the contractor was William H. Merritt of Moorhead. Beebe practiced and studied architecture in Buffalo, New York, and New York City until he moved to Fargo in 1898. Although based in North Dakota where he was responsible for many domestic and public buildings, Beebe's designs were also implemented in Staples and Moorhead, Minnesota[1]. The Moorhead Public Library was officially dedicated on October 15, 1906, but the library itself had been operating since July 12, 1906. The first librarian was Miss Nellie Olson who took a leave of absence from her position at the local high school to organise Moorhead's Carnegie public library[1].

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Moorhead 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 local Woman's Club organized a pledge to obtain a site for the Carnegie building that was originally the P.H. Lamb site. The deed to the land located at 6th Street and 1st Avenue South was presented to the City Council by the Woman's Club on August 8, 1905. In addition to this the Council purchased an additional 10 feet of land to the south of this plot[1].

In 1961 Moorhead built a new public library on a different site (one block away) and in May 1963 the Carnegie building was demolished to make way for unspecified development. The former site of the Moorhead Public Library is now a parking lot.

Building Description

The Moorhead Public Library was a one storey Classical Revival style building. It had a raised rusticated stone basement defined by a smooth stone water table. The exterior was faced with brick and trimmed with stone. The building had a low-pitched, hipped roof with a central dome. The small dome was elaborately detailed with projecting floral motifs and a decorative entablature. The main entrance had a pedimented portico and was flanked by a symmetrical three bay façade. The emphasis on the entrance space was characteristic of Carnegie Library design; classical features included the two Ionic columns sited on high stone pedestals and flanked by decorative Ionic pilasters, detailed entablature and quoining which featured around the building. The words 'Carnegie Library' were carved in relief on the front of the building and '1905' – the date construction began – appeared in the tympanum of the pediment. Access into the library was by a central flight of steps that led to large wooden entrance doors.

In 1945 the library section increased with the purchase of a strip of land to the east side. However, at the time of the Library's 50th anniversary in 1956 there had been no alterations or additions to the original Carnegie structure except for changes to interior service areas. For example, the whole east end of the lower floor initially functioned as an auditorium until it was converted to a Children's Room in 1921. This lower section of the library served a variety of social purposes including art exhibits, Red Cross Sewing in World War I, and was even rented for a time by the Chamber of Commerce [1].

Memories and stories


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Related Links

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County- main website


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