Alexandria Public Library, 7th Avenue W and Fillmore Street, Alexandria, Minnesota

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Alexandria Public Library

Alexandria Public Library ca.1910
Alexandria, Minnesota
Douglas County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1903-1904
Primary Style: Beaux Arts
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Historic Function: Museum and Community Room
Other Historic Function: Museum and Community Room
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Henry H. Foeller
Builder: H.W Hinckley
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Alexandria
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $12,000

Alexandria Douglas

Alexandria Public Library, 7th Avenue W and Fillmore Street, Alexandria, Minnesota
(45.8847863° N, 95.3792503° WLatitude: 45°53′5.231″N
Longitude: 95°22′45.301″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: August 23, 1985
Level of significance: Local

The Alexandria Public 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 February 02, 1903 the city of Alexandria secured an initial sum of $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Alexandria Carnegie Library. Plans by architect Henry H. Foeller of Wisconsin were immediately considered by the library board and a decision was made to appoint H.W Hinckley of Duluth as the contractor. Alexandria's library plans were actually modified plans from a library designed by Foeller in Oconto, Wisconsin. During the construction period building costs began to exceed the original grant amount and an additional $2,000 was requested and received. The library was completed in 1904.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Alexandria 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 site finally agreed upon was chosen by the library board and belonged to the village. At the time of selection it was being used as a haymarket and wood lot where farmers met to sell and bargain for these products [1]. The first librarian of the Carnegie library in Alexandria was James Fitzgerald.

Over the years the basement of the library has been used for various purposes including, a museum, a meeting hall for Girls Scouts and League of Women Voters, and a Community Council and police department. The Carnegie library in Alexandria still functions as a public library today.

Building Description

The Alexandria Public Library is a one storey building that rests on a raised basement defined by a smooth stone water table. The exterior is faced with light brown pressed brick with an ashlar gray limestone base. The roof is a low, hipped covered with asphalt shingles. The Beaux Arts inspired building has nine bays on the main facade and the entrance consists of a three bay portico featuring two fluted columns and four brick pilasters. The emphasis on the entrance space creates a grand opening to the interior of the building and is characteristic of Carnegie Library design. At the time of construction the interior was furnished with quarter-sawn white oak furniture, the majority of which was produced by the Alexandria Manufacturing Company purchased in 1903 specifically for the new library. In 1917 the basement of the library was completed and has been used by the library as well as community groups. The Beaux Arts-styled Alexandria Public Library is considered to be the first of several Beaux Arts buildings constructed in the community's downtown; these include the U.S Post Office (1910), the Farmers' National Bank(1912), the Douglas County State Bank (ca. 1915) and the Alexandria Bank and Trust (1919-1920).

Memories and stories


65}px This place is part of the
Minnesota Carnegie Libraries Tour

Photo Gallery


Alexandria Public Library, 1983

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