Fairmont Public Library, 118 Park Street North, Fairmont, Minnesota (Razed)

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Fairmont Public Library

Fairmont Public Library. Photo courtesy of Martin County Historical Society
Fairmont Carnegie Library Cornerstone. Photo credit: Martin County Historical Society
Address: 118 Park Street N
Fairmont, Minnesota
Martin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1903-1904
Year razed: 1968
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Historic Function: Library
Architect or source of design: C. W. Patsche
Builder: G. W. Pietre
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Slate
First Owner: City of Fairmont
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $10,000

1968: Demolished to build new library.

Fairmont Martin

Fairmont Public Library, 118 Park Street North, Fairmont, Minnesota (Razed)
(43.653236° N, 94.460879° WLatitude: 43°39′11.65″N
Longitude: 94°27′39.164″W

The Fairmont Public Library was 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 12, 1903 the city of Fairmont secured $10,000 from Carnegie to build the Fairmont Public Library. Plans were prepared by the architect and superintendent of the project Mr C.W Patsche. The contractor G. W. Pietre was responsible for building the library which was officially opened on April 26, 1904. The first librarian to serve in the Carnegie building was Miss Minnie Bird of Fairmont.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Fairmont 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. Local residents supported the library and land for the library site was donated to the city by A. C. Frey, O. C. Gould, L. H. Brosemer and William Viesselman.[1]

The Carnegie building served as the Fairmont Public Library until it was demolished in May 1968 so that a new library – the Martin County Library – could replace it. The Martin County Library officially opened in October 1969; it was constructed by Carlstrom Construction Company of Mankato for an estimated cost of $440,000. When the Carnegie library building was demolished some of its architectural features including the granite pillars, cornerstone and capstone were carefully removed and saved for re-use. The Martin County Historical Society's entrance to the Pioneer Museum now boasts the granite pillars and the cornerstone from the Carnegie Library, dated 1903, rests at the museum's entrance. Inside the new section of the Historical Society's museum are eight of the original stained glass windows that were salvaged from the original Fairmont Public Library. At the time of the library's demolition the waste brick was apparently to be used for the construction of several local fishing jetties, including: George Lake near Lakeside Cemetery, Lake Sisserton north of Ward Park, and on the north shore of Hall Lake. The Mayor, W. Lester Webb, also stated that some residents wanted bricks for their own sentimental purposes.[1]

Building Description

The Fairmont Public Library was a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement of Kasota pink stone. The building had a hipped, slate-covered roof and was faced with pressed mottled brick of two colors. Kasota pink stone was used to highlight particular architectural features including the window surrounds entablature, column pedestals and the basement. The projecting entrance bay on the main facade had a full pediment supported by four polished granite Ionic columns. A dentilled cornice surrounded the building and below the pediment, carved upon the frieze were the words: 'Public Library'. The recessed doorway was flanked with Ionic pilasters and featured an entablature and pediment – thereby echoing the design of the main entrance. The Fairmont Public Library's symmetrical temple-like facade was a common characteristic found in Carnegie Library architecture, and like many other libraries had distinct classical detailing.

At the time of construction the interior including the furniture and book stacks was finished in polished golden oak. In the first few years of the library opening the basement was not used for library purposes but as a meeting hall by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and Woman's Relief Corps (WRC) organizations. However, in about 1920 the basement was transformed to a children's library.[1]

When the Fairmont Public Library was demolished in 1968 the Carnegie cornerstone was opened by Street Commissioner Hugh Heinrich, librarian Edwin Hughes and Irv Haertel, whose father made the cornerstone 65 years earlier. Contained within the cornerstone was a metal box filled with mementoes of 1903 such as a Legislative manual with a picture of the new state capitol, and five local newspapers.[1]. [1]

Memories and stories


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

Photo Gallery

All photos and images courtesy of Martin County Historical Society Image:Sarah--Fairmont_Carnegie_Library_retained_Cornerstone.JPG

Related Links

Martin County Historical Society website


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