Saint Cloud Public Library, 124 5th Avenue South, Saint Cloud, Minnesota (Razed)

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Saint Cloud Public Library

Address: 124 5th Avenue S
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Stearns County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1902
Year razed: 1981
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1939: rectangular addition to northeast corner by Works Progess Administration (WPA).
Historic Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Patton, Fisher and Miller
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Saint Cloud
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $25,000

Saint Cloud Stearns

Saint Cloud Public Library, 124 5th Avenue South, Saint Cloud, Minnesota (Razed)
(45.5599949° N, 94.1570941° WLatitude: 45°33′35.982″N
Longitude: 94°9′25.539″W

The Saint Cloud 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 16, 1901 the city of Saint Cloud secured $25,000 from Carnegie to build the Saint Cloud Public Library, making it the third city in Minnesota to receive funds. St. Cloud's request came immediately after the West Hotel fire destroyed their Reading Room on February 8, 1901. Three architects submitted plans for the library building and the successful firm was Patton, Fisher and Miller of Chicago who were specialists in library design. Mr Patton then presented three distinct designs and the Saint Cloud library board chose the central entrance Classical Revival style building above a corner entrance plan and Romanesque design. On October 13, 1902 the St. Cloud Public Library was opened. The first librarian to serve in the Carnegie building was Mrs. Marie E. Brick.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the St. Cloud 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. St. Cloud however had an extremely active and robust Reading Room Society who offered to fundraise and donate the land for the library site. Within 19 days of receiving Carnegie's grant, the Reading Room Society had found a site, secured $5,000 to finance the site and had offered it to the City Council. An interesting fact is that James J. Hill was approached by Mrs. W.B. Mitchell, a Reading Room member, and he quickly contributed $2,000 towards purchasing the land. [1]

The Carnegie building served as the St. Cloud Public Library and in 1970 it expanded services to become the St. Cloud and Great River Regional Library. In 1981 the Carnegie library in St. Cloud was demolished.

Building Description

The St. Cloud Public Library was a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement of rusticated stone. The building was faced with yellow-brown brick and granite trim, and a brick parapet extended beyond the cornice. Granite was a logical choice for use in the building due to its association with the City. The granite industry was collectively the largest employer in St Cloud and because of this the city earned the nickname: 'The Busy, Gritty, Granite City', which was chosen as a city slogan by the Saint Cloud Commercial Club in 1913. [1] The rectangular shaped front facade consisted of three bays. The central portion projected slightly and was supported by two polished granite Ionic columns flanked by granite quoins. The side bays had symmetrical rectangular windows with granite keystones, and granite quoining featured around the exterior. Further ornamentation was used with a ball-and-pedestal at the center of the roofline, a double cornucopia above the main entrance and a modillioned cornice with egg and dart molding. The entablature was also decorated with the words 'St. Cloud Public Library'. The rear of the building had a semi-octagonal stack room which was designed to house radiating stacks.

The interior featured large paneled fireplaces trimmed with wooden pilasters and polished granite columns. In 1939 a rectangular addition to the northeast corner was completed with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor. The new addition included a stack room, a work room and a store room, and granite was cut to match the original building. [1]

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