Stillwater Carnegie Public Library, 224 3rd Street North, Stillwater, Minnesota

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Stillwater Carnegie Public Library

Address: 224 3rd Street N
Neighborhood/s: Downtown Historic District, Stillwater, Minnesota
Stillwater, Minnesota
Washington County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1902
Primary Style: Renaissance Revival
Additions: 1972: Akerman Associates

1986: Meyer, Sherer, and Rockcastle 2006: Miller Dunwiddie

Major Alterations: Altered
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Patton and Miller Architects
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Roof: Ceramic Tile
Material of Foundation: Concrete
First Owner: City of Stillwater, MN
Notes: Carnegie Grant:$27,500

Downtown Historic District Stillwater Washington County

Stillwater Carnegie Public Library, 224 3rd Street North, Stillwater, Minnesota
(45.0573737° N, 92.8094041° WLatitude: 45°3′26.545″N
Longitude: 92°48′33.855″W
National Register of Historic Places Information

The Stillwater 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 July 3, 1901 the city of Stillwater secured $27,500 from Carnegie to build the Stillwater Public Library. Plans were prepared by the Chicago firm Patton, Fisher and Miller who were specialists in library design. The contractor was O. H. Olsen and the Stillwater Public Library was completed in 1902.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Stillwater 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 Stillwater Public Library has undergone several major alteration and expansion projects since the 1970s. Despite these changes, the original Carnegie library building in Stillwater continues to serve its community as the public library.

Building Description

The original design of the Stillwater Public Library was a one storey Renaissance Revival style building with a raised concrete basement. The exterior is faced with contrasting red and brown Roman brick and stone is used for the lintels. The building has a hipped roof and is covered with red tiles. The symmetrical main façade consists of a central projecting entrance, a round arched roof with a decorative floral cartouche and a carved acanthus leaf atop the roof. The entry way is further accentuated two Ionic columns positioned on pedestals and flanked by square brick pillars. Ornamentation includes the cornice with egg and dart molding, brick quioining at the corners of the building, and the inscription on the frieze above the entrance that reads:'Carnegie Public Library'.

Many changes to the building have occurred since the 1970s. In 1972-1973 additional wings on the north and south side were designed by Robert F. Ackermann and Associates. This addition was funded by the Margaret Rivers Fund and saw the library more than double in size. Then, in 1986-1987 the architectural firm Meyer, Sherer and Rockcastle was responsible for renovating the library and re-organizing the space to add handicapped accessibility.

Most recently in March 2005, the City Council formally approved a resolution to provide City funds of $5 million towards a library renovation/expansion project, and authorized the Library Board to proceed. Matching funds to complete the project came from the generous support of area foundations, corporations, and individuals in the Stillwater area community. This re-development designed by the Minneapolis firm Miller Dunwiddie Architecture saw an extra 22,000 square feet added to the existing 14,000 square feet library structure. Changes included the main entrance being moved from the original Carnegie library section to a new entry-way on Third Street, an additional lower level for library services and a new upper level that has community spaces, a gallery and a terrace. A 47-car parking structure was also added. This 2005-2006 project has significantly altered the original façade of the Carnegie building.[1]

During these extensive works the interior of the original Carnegie section received attention. Conrad Schmitt Studios was chosen to restore the historic entry rotunda and wing rooms. The aged structure required fiberglass wall stabilization to deter future surface cracks before the decorative schemes were applied. Once painted white, the rotunda columns are now graced by faux marble decoration and the upper Gothic tablature is glazed and gold gilded to match the tile floor. Further to this, interior features that remain from the 1903 building include stained glass windows and wrought iron shelving that houses the fiction collection.[1]

Memories and stories


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