Willmar Free Public Library, 330 5th Street West, Willmar, Minnesota (Razed)

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Willmar Free Public Library

Address: 330 5th Street W
Willmar, Minnesota
Kandiyohi County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Year built: 1903
Year razed: 1967
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1912 - Dome added

1929 - New entrance added

Historic Function: Library
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: City of Willmar

Willmar Kandiyohi

Willmar Free Public Library, 330 5th Street West, Willmar, Minnesota (Razed)
(45.1205035° N, 95.049368° WLatitude: 45°7′13.813″N
Longitude: 95°2′57.725″W

The Willmar Free 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 January 13, 1903 the city of Willmar secured $11,000 from Carnegie to build the Willmar Free Public Library. Once the plans were prepared the library was built immediately and the Willmar Free Public Library opened to the public in February 1904. The first librarian was Miss Edith Frost.

While the Carnegie grant was used to construct the building, the Willmar 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.

In 1958 the Willmar Public Library merged with the Kandiyohi County Library and the Carnegie building continued to support both city and county services. However, the merger of the two libraries meant more space was required and a new facility was constructed in 1966 to accommodate the County-City library. The Carnegie building was demolished in 1967 to make way for a parking lot.[1]

Building Description

The Willmar Free Public Library (also called the Willmar Public Library) was a one storey Classical Revival style building with a raised basement defined by a smooth stone water table. The building was faced with brick and trimmed with stone. At the time of construction the building had a flat roof, but a central dome was added in 1912. Situated on a prominent corner section the design of the building was angled to accentuate the site and view from the street front. The main facade consisted of a central entrance flanked by three bays to the left and two bays on the right. Classical architectural features included two non-fluted Ionic columns supporting a broken pediment, a semi-circular keystoned archway surrounding the door, and Ionic pilasters flanking the windows. Along with the dome, further ornamentation added at a later include the pediment-styled parapet on the main façade and a new entrance constructed in 1929.[1]

Memories and stories


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