Benson Public Library, 14th Street and Kansas Avenue, Benson, Minnesota (Razed)

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Benson Public Library

Benson, Minnesota
Swift County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1913
Year razed: 1994
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Historic Function: Library
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Benson
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $7,500

Benson Swift

Benson Public Library, 14th Street and Kansas Avenue, Benson, Minnesota (Razed)
(45.3139186° N, 95.602381° WLatitude: 45°18′50.107″N
Longitude: 95°36′8.572″W

The Benson 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 April 3, 1912 the city of Benson secured $7,500 from Carnegie to build the Benson Public Library and construction for the Benson Public Library was completed in 1913.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Benson 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 Carnegie building functioned as a library until 1992. At this time a public debate occurred when the city planned to significantly re-develop the library and only retain a portion of the original library. Ultimately a new library facility was built on a different site and Benson's Carnegie Public Library was demolished to make way for a parking lot.

Building Description

The Benson Public Library was a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement defined by a stone water table. The building was faced with textured brown brick and trimmed with yellow limestone. The roofline featured a brick parapet with a stone coping and a nameplate incised with the words: 'Public Library'. The original main facade consisted of a slightly projecting entrance with two Ionic columns and a recessed doorway. Further architectural detailing included the use of egg and dart molding and decorative raised brickwork.[1]

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