Thirty-Sixth Street Branch Library (Hosmer), 347 36th Street East, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Thirty-Sixth Street Branch Library

Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library, (Hosmer Community Library), 2008. Photo credit: Elkman
Address: 347 36th Street E
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1916
Primary Style: Tudor Revival
Additions: 1996-1997: one story brick-faced addition to rear of building by architects Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle.
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Henry D. Whitfield
Builder: James H. Brown
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Asphalt Shingles
Material of Foundation: Concrete
First Owner: City of Minneapolis
Notes: Carnegie Grant: part of $125,000 granted to the City of Minneapolis for 4 Carnegie Libraries.

Renamed 1926: Hosmer Public Library

Minneapolis Hennepin

Thirty-Sixth Street Branch Library (Hosmer), 347 36th Street East, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.937484° N, 93.270543° WLatitude: 44°56′14.942″N
Longitude: 93°16′13.955″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: May 26, 2000
Level of significance: Local

The Thirty-sixth Street 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 April 03, 1912 the City of Minneapolis secured $125,000 from Carnegie to build four branch libraries for the Minneapolis Public Library system. The funding success has been attributed to the application made by Gratia Countryman who served as head librarian of the Minneapolis Public Library from 1904 to 1936. Prior to 1912, Minneapolis had made two previous requests to Carnegie in 1902 and 1909 but both requests had been denied. Countryman has been celebrated for her vision and direction in the development of Minnesota's public libraries, and as a leader in the library world. Plans for the Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library were prepared by the New York architect Henry D. Whitfield. Whitfield, who also happened to be Andrew Carnegie's brother-in-law, was Harvard educated and designed many Carnegie library buildings during his career. The contractor appointed to construct the branch library was James H. Brown and Company of Minneapolis. The Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library was officially opened on March 8, 1916. The first head librarian to serve in this Carnegie library was Augusta Starr who held this position for 28 years.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the City of Minneapolis 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 site for this new branch library cost $2,500 and was located on an open, flat prairie that was sparsely populated at the time. The reason behind this decision was the hope that residential development would soon catch up and expand southwards.

In 1926 - on the tenth anniversary of the library being opened - the Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library changed its name to the James K. Hosmer Branch Library. Hosmer was the Minneapolis Public Library's second head librarian and Countryman's predecessor. Although the Carnegie building has undergone many alterations and expansions it continues to function as a branch library in the Hennepin County Library system.

Building Description

The Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library (Hosmer Branch Library) is a one storey Tudor Revival style building with a raised basement defined by a smooth stone water table. The library is faced with medium brown brick and trimmed with cream-colored terra cotta as a contrast. The terra cotta is used to highlight the elements of Tudor Revival influence such as the quoins, shields, floral and Tudor motifs and battlement (crenellation); it is also the material used for the cornice, water table and coping. The central entrance of the main facade is the dominant feature of the building. The entrance bay is flanked by polygonal towers with an embattled parapet. Between the towers is a Tudor arched entrance-way enclosed by a decorative terra cotta surround. Gothic style lettering above the arch reads 'Public Library'. The windows are rectangular, mostly leaded and are highlighted by terra cotta surrounds.

A sun-room area featuring brick buttresses and stone caps is located on the eastern facade. A western sunroom has been incorporated in a new addition to the library. During the Depression, the Carnegie library was cleaned and redecorated with workers from two of the New Deal federal relief programs – the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1996-1997 a one storey brick-faced addition was designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle. This provided extra space for the branch library and contains a stained glass window by artist Michael Pilla. Although the interior of the library was renovated in 1997, some original features have been retained including much of the woodwork and shelving, fireplaces and their surrounds and a small oak door in the foyer.[1]

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