Carnegie Libraries of Illinois

Cities A-C

 

Illinois communities tended to know a good thing when they saw it: hence, many accepted Carnegie funding.
The 105 state Carnegie library count does not include college libraries (North Central College, Monmouth College), but appears to include the Danville VA facility's Carnegie library.


As I approach finding cards of all the cities, I have had to divide this page once more, into A-C; D-F; G-H; J-L, M-O; P-R; and S-Z. Several towns and cities with the most interesting library histories (Oregon, Rockford, and Rochelle) are now free-standing.

 

I am indebted to the Bials' The Carnegie Library in Illinois (1991) for much of the information used in the production of these pages. Unfortunately, several Carnegie buildings have been demolished since its publication.

Aledo (Mercer Carnegie Library)

Aledo received a 1913 grant. None of it seems to have been spent on any frippery or festoonery. The building is still in use, serving Mercer and Millersburg Townships today.

The uncommon photo card was mailed in 1917, and trimmed due to damage.

Arcola

1903 Carnegie grant, built 1905. On the National Register of Historic Places.

The main construction of this building resembles that of Tuscola, Illinois. Note the dome.
It also says 'Arcola Public Library' along the sides of the triangular space above the entrance.

 

Neither photo postcard bears attribution.

 

Aurora

(L) Paul P. Vogel postcard shows the Library's location on an island in the Fox River. 

(R) German postcard shows ivy beginning to grow up the front wall.

 

Postcards of the Aurora Carnegie Library are quite plentiful.

1901 grant. Replaced 2015 by the Richard & Gina Santori Public Library, a delightful city library.

Many remodelings between 1942 and 1958, and a final 1969 remodel obliterated all traces of the Neoclassical architecture, and that island locale made further expansion impossible. 

Photograph taken by the author in September, 2015, several weeks after its closing.

As you can see, all the alterations made have erased exterior historical significance.

It appears to have been subdivided into offices.

Beardstown

(L) Newvochrome brand postcard.

(R) Slightly less usual view of a Anderson Drug & Company postcard, printed in Germany. You can see just how high the building sits: not attractive proportions.

1903 Carnegie grant, built 1904. Replaced in 2000, and recycled as the City Hall, a common fate of small-town Carnegie buildings.
In my opinion, the new Beardstown Houston Memorial Library is prettier than the old. I'm not a total Luddite.

Belleville

Most information from a 2016 Belleview News-Democrat article, which even includes a video interview with its director.

Belleville's library had six homes before obtaining its 1913 Carnegie grant. It opened in early 1916, Otto Rubach designed the building, which the article called Beaux Arts style, despite its resemblance to many school buildings of Illinois and Indiana. It has had only a single, 1975 addition, and remains in use.

The postcard, by Curt Teich, bears a 1913 code, R-45518, which would not be correct unless the firm was working from an architect's rendering

Belvidere (Ida Public Library)

(L) Thought to be a Curt Teich postcard.

(R) Printed for the New York Store.

Belvidere is one of only 4 Illinois libraries to earn a section in Heart of the Community: Libraries We Love.

Built in 1913, remodeled in 1985, and still in use, Ida Public Library looks much the same as on the postcards. You can spot it from the original US 20 (Grant Highway; Blue Star Highway) route, North State Street, in Belvidere.

Although the same architects (Grant Miller, of Patton and Miller) built Ida Public and the Freeport Carnegie Libraries, they are strikingly different. In person, Ida Public looks strongly Prairie-style.

Blue Island

1903 - 1970
This wasn't one of the finest examples of a Carnegie Library. All images indicate stone construction, perhaps extracted from local limestone quarries.

The current library stands on this site.

 

(R) This card was published by G.R. Richter, and has the code, 49-14. It was mailed, however, in 1909. Richter appears to have been a Blue Island pharmacist. Later, his advertisements appear in the Jewish Sentinel, published between 1911 and 1949 (courtesy of the Illinois Digital Archives).

The RPPC on the left seems to have been photographed later than the image on the right hand card, but a lot of linen cards and similar have had a lot of license taken with the image. The Real Photo card has attribution: Genuine Photograph C.R. Childs, Photograph Post Cards, Chicago

Carmi

Carnegie money received in 1914. Despite the late date of construction, this is one of the more Prairie-influenced Carnegie libraries in the state. It was to move into a new facility in the 1980s, according to the Bials, but the Carnegie building was still in use until 1999.
Today the Carnegie building houses the Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library of the White County Historical Society.

 

The Curt Teich postcard was mailed sometime after 1938.

 

Carrollton

(L) SL & Co. (1 of 3 possibles) card, mailed in 1908.
(R) Photo postcard, probably made by Bregstone, mailed in 1931.

1901 grant. Opened in 1903. This is one of those buildings that could be a post office, a library, or what have you.

A photo on its former web site showed that the exterior had not changed one whit. The Library seems to no longer have web presence beyond University of Illinois' information pages and a couple of business listings..

 

Centralia

N.C. Baker postcard.

Acmegraph card.

Unknown publisher.

Centralia's Carnegie Library started off looking normal in the early cards. Notice the size of the trees to approximate the date of the card. Also, note the different shades of brown used for the bricks among the cards.

 

Then came the atomic age. The eerie pink glow over the roof may have presaged the A-bomb scare of the late '50s. The right hand card, published by the Southern Illinois News Company of Christopher, Illinois, has a older feel to it than the 1954 postmark indicates.


Dedicated 1903; nearly destroyed in a 1936 fire; additions built, 1970 - 1972.

 

Chicago Heights

Every one of these views is somewhat different; all are appealing in different ways.

At the bottom right, the C.& E.I. Railroad (Chicago and Eastern Illinois) station is in the background, as is the post office..

 

Carnegie building opened September 11, 1903, at 1627 Halstead Street. Superceded 1972. Demolished 1974.

History from the Library's web site, except for one teensy fact: the demolition.

 

Chillicothe

1915 Carnegie grant.
Built 1917. Replaced in 2005, with the old Carnegie building currently housing a bookstore.

 

(L) Lovely hand-colored Albertype produced for Smith's Drug Store. Bonus: Overland car dealer in the background.

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©2015-2019  Judy Aulik
Contact me at (my first name) at roadmaps (dot) org.

 

Scanned images are provided in the spirit of scholarly study. Most are of an age to be in the public domain. However, if you use my scans, please credit this site.