The Carnegie Libraries Of Superior


Sometimes I stumble on something great as I drive from point A to point B, which is how I found one of the Carnegie libraries in Superior, Wisconsin. I didn’t know anything about it, but I knew it just had to be a Carnegie Library because of its look and guessing at its age. As it turns out, there are two Carnegie libraries in Superior. One is the oldest and the other is the newest Carnegie library in the state.

The library above is the first of 63 Carnegie libraries built in Wisconsin. Superior was given a $70,000 grant by Carnegie’s foundation to construct, furnish, and build a collection. The library opened up into a rectangular section where the main reading room and reference areas were. A polygonal section with Ionic columns further inside housed the stacks. The Superior Public Library opened in 1901 and served the community until 1991. The Neoclassical Revival style building sat vacant for many years before it was purchased by a community organization that began renovating the old building.

These photos show the last Carnegie library built in Wisconsin. Andrew Carnegie gave Superior a $20,000 grant in 1917 to build the East End Branch Library. It opened on September 10, 1918. The interior was open T plan with a reading area on one end and a children’s section on the other, with the checkout desk in the center. The stacks were located in the space projecting backward from the checkout desk. A lecture room, restrooms, and a librarian’s office were found in the basement. The East End Branch Library served the community for 74 years before being converted into a single-family home (um, I want to live in a library!)

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