Morris Carnegie Library, Nevada Avenue and 6th Street, Morris, Minnesota

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Morris Carnegie Library

Morris Carnegie Library 1909
(Former) Morris Carnegie Library 2009. Photo credit: Stevens County Historical Society
Morris, Minnesota
Stevens County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1905
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Stevens County Historical Society
Architect or source of design: Sedgwick and Saxton
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Morris
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $10,000

Other names used: Morris Free Public Library

Morris Stevens

Morris Carnegie Library, Nevada Avenue and 6th Street, Morris, Minnesota
(45.5854257° N, 95.917846° WLatitude: 45°35′7.533″N
Longitude: 95°55′4.246″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: January 27, 1983

The Morris Carnegie 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 December 4, 1903 the city of Morris secured $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Morris Carnegie Library. Plans were prepared by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Sedgwick and Saxton. Examples of Sedgwick's earlier buildings include the Newell House (1888) and the Westminster Presbyterian Church (1896-1898), both in Minneapolis. Construction for the Morris Carnegie Library was completed in 1905.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Morris 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 Carnegie building functioned as a library until 1968 when the new Morris Public Library was built. The building has since been used by the Stevens County Historical Society and additions have expanded the original Carnegie building.

Building Description

The Morris Carnegie Library is a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement defined by a stone water table. The building is faced with brick from the Menominee Hydraulic Press Brick Company and trimmed with Bedford Stone. The roofline features a brick parapet with a full pediment located above a projecting cornice with modillions. The original main facade consists of a slightly projecting entrance flanked by three bays of symmetrical, rectangular windows. The central entry-way features two granite columns and a name plate in the entablature which reads 'Carnegie'. Further classical ornamentation includes the use of decorative brick pilasters with Bedford stone capitals and carved swag-and-garland motifs at the four corners.[1]

The Stevens County Historical Society first undertook renovations to the building between 1986 and 1987. A ceiling mural project was completed in 1998 by artist Lisa Johannes. She worked in the Swedish 19th-century Gustavian style so as to represent the Scandinavian heritage of the Morris area. Johannes painted wildlife such as barn swallows, and indigenous plants such as wild grapes and bittersweet.[1] In 2005 a significant addition to the building almost doubled the display and storage space and included moving the main entrance from 6th Street to Nevada Avenue. The Nevada Avenue entrance was designed as a modern replica of the original entrance with features such as the parapet, pediment, quoining and columns.

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