Ortonville Free Library, 412 2nd Street North West, Ortonville, Minnesota

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Ortonville Free Library

Ortonville Public Library, 1972
Address: 412 2nd Street NW
Ortonville, Minnesota
Big Stone County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1915
Primary Style: Mission
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: F.W Ellerbe
Builder: Carlson-Hasslen Construction Company
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Ceramic Tile
First Owner: City of Ortonville
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $10,000

Ortonville Big Stone

Ortonville Free Library, 412 2nd Street North West, Ortonville, Minnesota
(45.307546° N, 96.4478014° WLatitude: 45°18′27.166″N
Longitude: 96°26′52.085″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: August 15, 1985
Level of significance: Local

The Ortonville Free 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 August 11, 1913 the city of Ortonville secured $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Ortonville Free Library. Plans were prepared by the St Paul-based architect Franklin W. Ellerbe, founder of Ellerbe Architects. Ellerbe was born in Mississippi and moved to Minnesota when he was a child. In 1909, at the age of 39 he started his own practice in St. Paul. Early projects included the Old Fireside Inn, a retail store and apartment complex in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park. This work was followed by commercial, educational, and industrial buildings in Minnesota and South Dakota. Ellerbe is also known for designing medical and residential facilities for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1914 and 1916.[1] Ellerbe designed two Carnegie libraries for cities in Big Stone County, Minnesota; Ortonville and Graceville. The Ortonville Free Library was built by the Carlson-Hasslen Construction Company (now the Hasslan Construction Company), Ortonville's oldest construction firm and oldest continuously operating family business. The Carnegie building was completed in 1915 and officially opened April 26, 1915.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Ortonville 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 first librarian to work in the Carnegie library in Ortonville was Miss Hester J. Clark.

The Carnegie library continues to function as the Ortonville Public Library and is the only example of a Mission Revival style Carnegie library built in Minnesota.

Building Description

The Ortonville Free Library is a one storey, seven bay building in the Mission Revival style. Faced with stretcher bonded red pressed brick and gray stucco, it sits on a raised basement and is covered with a red ceramic tile hipped roof. The Mission Revival influence is evident in the form, design and materials of the library. The symmetrical design is dominated by rounded arched window openings and ornamental brickwork. For example, the main facade has an enclosed brick entrance porch flanked by six large rounded arched windows that sit above decorative stucco and brick panels, and rectangular basement windows. The projecting brick entrance porch has a gabled roof, a decorative brick archway, and is topped with a panel in Ortonville granite that reads 'Free Library'. Landscaping of the library grounds occurred in 1917 by St Paul landscape architect Halmet Olson. Exterior alterations have included a glass and metal entrance door installed in 1976.[1]

Memories and stories


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