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Clintonville, WI Carnegie building, photo copyright by author Judy Aulik.

Carnegie Libraries of Wisconsin
Cities A-D

Wisconsin's Carnegie Libraries are slightly better documented than those in some states. A newly found resource--Public Documents of the State of Wisconsin, Being the Reports of the Various State Officers, Departments and Institutions (1907)--allowed me to fill in some gaps regarding architects.


An astonishing number of postcards are available for this hamlet, which never broke 10,000 in population in its heyday. I have at least 23 of the library postcards.

The county seat of Langlade County received Carnegie funding in March of 1903. Construction is dated 1904.

Antigo, WI Carnegie library

(L) 1911 colorized reprint of a 1906 E.C. Kropp postcard.

(R) A.J. Kingsbury postcard. locally produced. This issue is notable because of its caption:

Carnegie Library and Teacher's Training School, Antigo, Wis.

Antigo, WI Carnegie library and teachers' training school

The Georgian Revival structure was designed by Allan D. Conover, but the Wisconsin State Historical Society credits C.F. Dallman as the local architect. Mattefs Bros. Construction was also heavily involved in its construction, especially the distinctive stone masonry foundation.

Antigo, WI Carnegie library

(L) E.C. Kropp card from the beginning of the white border era, which began ca. 1918.

(R) Another photo postcard, believed to also be an A.J. Kingsbury product. It was mailed in 1925.


Antigo, WI Carnegie library

This building stayed in use as the city's library until 1996, when it was replaced. Today it serves as the Langlade County Historical Society, and remains in a remarkable state of preservation.

(L) Photo postcard with distinctive letterset caption. Clearly part of a series including the libraries of Clintonville, Ladysmith, and Medford, Wisconsin. Recent research has shown that these cards are produced by Excel Post Cards, out of Milwaukee.

(R) E.C. Kropp linen finish postcard, mailed in 1938.


Grant from March 14, 1905. Dedicated in 1907. Still in use.

Arcadia, WI Carnegie library

(L) Many things should be sublimated in a library. Iodine crystals are not one of them. Card published by the Massure Co. and mailed in 1910.
(R) Keller photo: postcard mailed in June of 1907, shortly before the library's dedication.

Arcadia, WI Carnegie library
Baraboo, WI Carnegie library
Baraboo, WI Carnegie library

A.G. Campbell photo postcard.


Well-focused photo postcard, mailed in 1910. There is some debris by the back corner of the library building

Baraboo, WI Carnegie library

Unknown publisher using an unusual palette.

1902 grant. Still in use.

Typical Carnegie building in an unusual town best known for its circus museum and Ringling Theater. Surprisingly, a 1903 Louis Claude design.

Its remodeling architects included Strang Partners.


One of Wisconsin's Seven Sisters Prairie style library buildings by architects Claude & Starck.

The Carnegie grant was made in 1912. The resultant building is still in use, with a large addition.

(R) Very clear photo postcard, mailed in 1932.

Real photo postcard of the Barron, WI Carnegie library
Barron, WI Carnegie library

(L) Denison Publishing is to blame for this odd tint job.

(R) Photo postcard from Cook-Montgomery of Minneapolis, precursor to L.L. Cook.

Mailed in 1918.

Barron, WI Carnegie library

Early 1903 grant. Designed by Henry Wildhagen, and built in 1904. Still in use. More library history on the library's site. 

Bayfield, WI Carnegie library

(L) This photo card postdates the flood and was produced by L.L. Cook of Milwaukee. It carries a 1947 postmark. Notice the two tones of brick used: it's much more evident on the library's site.

(R) The G.A. McHenry postcard is carefully tinted.

Bayfield, WI Carnegie library

An example of the need for disaster planning.


Doing a little surfing on the net reveals the possibility that this card was produced by G.L. Larsen of Fond du Lac.

Here's a page with more photos of the flood's aftermath. I believe most of these are by the same person, or at least taken with the same camera. There's a light leak in the same position on my card and on most of the RPPC shown on the 'Summer of 42' site.

Bayfield, WI Carnegie library, post-flood

(L) Rather ordinary monochrome card published by H.E. Genske of Plymouth, Wisconsin.
(R) Gently tinted E.C. Kropp card printed on pebbled paper.

Beloit Public Library

1901 grant: building designed by Patton & Miller. Demolished. Beloit College also received a Carnegie grant for its library.

Beloit, WI public Carnegie library

So nice, Rotograph made cards twice.

(L) Rotograph card, mailed 1907.

(R) Bird's eye view. likely taken from a water tower or church steeple.

Beloit, WI public Carnegie library
Beloit, WI public Carnegie library

(L) E.A. Bishop postcard.

(R) E.C. Kropp postcard.with atypical sepia tint.

Beloit, WI public Carnegie library
Berlin, WI Carnegie library

(L) Rather ordinary monochrome card published by H.E. Genske of Plymouth, Wisconsin.
(R) Gently tinted E.C. Kropp card printed on pebbled paper.

Berlin, WI Carnegie library
Berlin, WI Carnegie library

Stylistically typical neoclassical building by H. A. Foeller, working from a 1903 grant. Still in use, with recent addition.

(L)  This is a later L.L. Cook photo postcard showing an ivy-covered library. My estimate is that this dates from the late 1950s.

Black River Falls

This northern Wisconsin town boasts an atypical Carnegie building, now used as the Jackson County Historical Society Museum. Part of the unusual appearance is that this was one of the latter Wisconsin Carnegie buildings (1915, from a 1914 grant). Many rural Wisconsin schools of the era also seem to share a similar plan.

Black River Falls (WI) Carnegie library

(L) Excel Post Card, of a common area style.

(R) E.C. Kropp linen finish card, with slight sky  tinting.

Black River Falls (WI) Carnegie library
Black River Falls (WI) Carnegie library

(L) Curt Teich linen finish card, with text:


A handsome red brick structure maintained by the city. $10,000 of the initial cost came from the Andrew Carnegie Library Fund.


Chippewa Falls

1902 Carnegie grant, built 1903 from a F.D. Orff design. Demolished.

Chippewa Falls (WI) Carnegie library

(L) H.E. Sorensen card, printed in Germany.

(R) Card by unknown publisher.

Chippewa Falls (WI) Carnegie library
Chippewa Falls (WI) Carnegie library

(L) I have had this card for many years, but its identity struck me in 2012. The unusual crest and chimney were the ultimate clues.
There are many small details on this RPPC: the standpipe, the bell tower, the tree (to the left of the entrance), little girls, and a man in uniform talking with a boy on the library steps. It also shows that its roof was corrugated metal, and that the chimney was braced in two places. It does make me wonder if the library's construction may not have been very sturdy overall.

Clintonville (Finney Library)

So beautiful it could make you cry.


1915 grant, in the heights of the 'what can we do to the basic plan to make it especially wonderful?' phase. The panel over the door shows a figure with either stacks of books or gas cans. The door frame has molded terra cotta decoration. Little squares on the doors echo the frames. Where other communities made the obligatory lamp standards out of iron, those illustrated below looked like terra cotta.
Bet they fared well in a Wisconsin winter. I wonder when they actually failed?


Further details come from the Wisconsin Library Bulletin, in an article by Margaret Gilpin, who stated that the brick used was Critex shale brick, and that the basement contained an auditorium and a club room.


Photographs are copyright by Judy Aulik.


Entryway of former Finney Library, Clintonville, WI
Finney Library, Clintonville, WI

(L) Excel photo postcard with letterset caption.

(R) Possibly the oldest card showing the Finney Library, construction debris is still visible on this photo postcard.

Finney Library, Clintonville, WI
Finney Library, Clintonville, WI

(L) Millbauer the Druggist distributed this card, likely printed by E.C. Kropp.

(R) Artvue post card showing an auto with an unusual accessory, perhaps a Klaxon?

Finney Library, Clintonville, WI

Would you think this beautiful building, high upon a hill, is still in use?


But at least it was preserved as a real estate office.

Columbus, WI Carnegie library

(L) E.C. Kropp postcard.

(R) E.A. Bishop card, postmarked 1913.


It seems strange that both negatives were flipped, but then again, if the original view was taken from the state highway, the original elevation may have resembled these cards.

Columbus, WI Carnegie library, photograph copyright by Judy Aulik.

Photograph copyright by the author, Judy Aulik.

Designed by Claude and Starck, and built in 1912, this is one of my favorite library buildings. 
Evidently the powers that be agree, 
since it was placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1991. 
Only minor renovations were needed for ADA compliance. 
The city has seen fit to keep it in use, and the library celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2002.

From its historical plaque:

The Prairie Style Library was designed by Louis W. Claude (former associate of Louis Sullivan) 
and Edward F. Starck of Madison, Wisconsin, and built with funding from Andrew Carnegie and the Columbus Women's Club.

The library was dedicated November 1, 1912. In 1990, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and became handicapped accessible with a new entrance.

6 Cumberland, WI scenes, in magenta, of Cumberland (WI) include the Carnegie library

Carnegie grant, 1905. The architect was C.H. Patsche. Built, 1906. Still in use.
On both the State and the National Register of Historic Places.


(L) Multiview postcard of the town, mailed in 1906.

Cumberland (WI) Carnegie library

Two photo postcards of the Carnegie building, neither with attribution. However, the trees have grown enough that the card on the right is about five years newer.

Cumberland (WI) Carnegie library
Darlington (WI) Carnegie library

(L) The postcard is most likely an L.L. Cook product.

(R) The C.R. Childs image also picks up a small building with a cupola behind, which could be anything from a one-room schoolhouse to a garage.

Darlington (WI) Carnegie library

1904 building, now in use as the Lafayette County Historical Society.
This library has a few Tudor touches in the diamond leaded windows and the doors.


Late 1905 grant. The building, which (along with Elroy, Kewaunee, and Platteville) used up all the Tudor geegaws, is still standing, although not in use as a library.

Durand (WI) Carnegie library

(L) Possibly a Massure postcard, this isn't as gaudy as others of its type.

(R) Wonderful photo postcard. Its quality seems up to  L.L. Cook or A.J. Kingsbury standards.

Durand (WI) Carnegie library

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