Duluth Public Library, 101 2nd Street West, Duluth, Minnesota

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Duluth Public Library

Duluth Public Library ca.1909
Address: 101 2nd Street W
Duluth, Minnesota
Saint Louis County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1901-1902
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1908: roof re-built; 1927: addition to rear of building
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Office
Architect or source of design: Adolph F. Rudolph
Builder: Hugh Fawcett and Company
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Sandstone
First Owner: City of Duluth
Notes: Carnegie Grant: $75,000

Duluth Saint Louis

Duluth Public Library, 101 2nd Street West, Duluth, Minnesota
(46.7873411° N, 92.1016329° WLatitude: 46°47′14.428″N
Longitude: 92°6′5.878″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Certification date: May 5, 1978
Level of significance: Local

The Duluth 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 October 7, 1899 the city of Duluth secured $75,000 from Carnegie to build the Duluth Public Library. The city also received an additional $50,000 in funding to build two other public library branches in Duluth – the Lincoln Branch Library and the West Duluth Library. Plans were prepared by local architect Adolph F. Rudolph and the contractor was Hugh Fawcett and Company. The building was constructed and completed between 1901 and 1902.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Duluth 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 served as the main Duluth Public Library until a new public library building opened in 1980. The Carnegie building was then converted to offices in the 1990s and has continued to function as such. In 2001 a local family purchased the property and spent a lot of time and resources to restore many of the historic features and ensure the former Carnegie Library remains a part of Duluth's heritage.

Building Description

The Duluth Public Library is located on a steep sloping site at the northwest corner of First Avenue West and Second Street in downtown Duluth. The Carnegie building is a two storey Classical Revival style building with a raised rusticated stone basement. The building is faced with brick and sandstone and is crowned by a low circular dome with oculus. Modifications to the roof occurred in 1908 due to structural design issues caused substantial interior damage. Despite the re-roofing, the design concept is still evident and restoration work on the dome has been completed in recent years. The main facade consists of a principal entry at the basement level of the portico. This slightly projecting pedimented entrance is supported by four Ionic columns and the words 'Duluth Public Library' are boldly inscribed on the frieze. Other classical style features include the parapet that extends behind the pediment and the ornamental cornice. In 1927 a rear addition was built at a cost of $47,890 which provided extra space for book stacks and library facilities. The addition was constructed to match entirely with the original building, from the use of sandstone to the balustrade detail.

Some of the interior features include the white marble staircase with bronze filigree balustrades that leads to the second level. The reading and the reference rooms were designed identically and located on either side of the staircase. The main difference between them is the carved sandstone fireplace found in the reading room. Stained glass windows are also a significant feature of the Duluth Public Library and the window in the reference room is the earliest of those installed. This particular window is of importance because it was first exhibited in the Minnesota Building of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The window design depicts the character 'Minnehaha' - of Longfellow's famous poem - who is standing in front of her namesake waterfall. The window was manufactured by Louis C. Tiffany Studios of New York.[1]

Memories and stories


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Related Links

Sevastiades, P. (November 21, 2010). Duluth Public Library almost as old as city. Budgeteer News. Retrieved December 20, 2010, from Duluth News Tribune website


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