Riverview Library, 1 East George Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Riverview Library

Riverview Branch Library, St Paul, 2001
Riverview Branch Library, St Paul, ca.1925
Address: 1 George Street E
Neighborhood/s: West Side, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Yoerg's Bluff, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Ramsey County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1916-1917
Primary Style: Beaux Arts
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Charles A. Hausler, City Architect
Builder: Cameron and Company
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Slate
Building Permit Number: 68197
First Owner: City of Saint Paul
Notes: Carnegie Grant: part of $75,000 granted to the City of Saint Paul for 3 Carnegie Libraries.

West Side, Yoerg's Bluff Saint Paul Ramsey County

Riverview Library, 1 East George Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota
(44.929763963305° N, 93.084833621924° WLatitude: 44°55′47.15″N
Longitude: 93°5′5.401″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: February 10, 1984
Level of significance: Local

The Riverview Branch 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 May 8, 1914 the city of Saint Paul secured a total of $75,000 from Carnegie to build three public libraries. These included the Riverview Branch Library, the Saint Anthony Park Branch Library, and the Arlington Hills Library - each was built for approximately $26,000. Plans for all three libraries were prepared by the Saint Paul City Architect Charles A. Hausler. Hausler (1889-1971) was a life-long resident of Saint Paul and earned his reputation having studied architecture in New York before working under Louis Sullivan in Chicago. During his architectural career Hausler went into partnership with William Alban (1911-1913) and later with Percy Bentley (1914) and Ernest Hartford (1915-1916). Hausler was Saint Paul's first City Architect (1914-1923) and designed many of the city's schools, libraries, fire stations, and park buildings. In 1922 Hausler was elected to the State Senate but retired after sixteen years of service. He then re-established his architectural practice in 1939 and continued to work almost until his death in 1971. The contractor responsible for building all three branch libraries was Cameron and Company. Construction began on each library in 1916 and they were all completed and opened in the summer of 1917.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the city of Saint Paul 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. In Riverview a committee was formed and raised $2000 to purchase a site; this was then presented to the City of Saint Paul to administer funds and build the library.

The Riverview Branch continues to function as a successful library operating in the Saint Paul Public Library network. Considered an anchor in the neighbourhood it avoided closure in the 1980s due to strong community support of their public library. As a busy community library it has undergone some alterations in order to retain its level of service.

Building Description

The Riverview Branch Library is a one storey Beaux Arts style building located in Saint Paul's Upper West Side. The building exterior is faced with brown brick and rests on a raised basement of coursed ashlar stone. The building plan is rectangular in form and has a hipped roof covered with a slate tile roof. The symmetrical, seven bay façade has a central entrance which is accessed by a flight of steps. The main façade and side walls have large rounded arched openings which are supported by brick pilasters. Decorative brickwork is a key design element of the Riverview Branch Library and is particularly evident in the frieze and the rounded arches. Both the spandrels and the frieze make use of the rondel motif and the cornice is accentuated with modillions. All three Saint Paul Carnegie libraries had the same dimensions: 80 feet wide across the façade, by 40 feet deep and 20 feet in height. While the Riverview Branch closely resembles the Saint Anthony Branch in both form and design, the latter s is considered to be a more ornate version of the two. [1]

In 1989 a minor addition was carried out to make the Riverview Branch Library compliant with accessibility standards.[1]

Memories and stories


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