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Carnegie Libraries in Wisconsin
Cities L-R


(L) E.S. Cardinal/Black and White card
(R) Unattributed photo card.


Planned by Claude & Starck. Funds came from a 1907 grant. 30 years later, the Carnegie building became the city and (Rusk) county library. Replaced ca. 1997.

Ladysmith, WI Carnegie library photo postcard with typeset caption.

Since 1999, in use as the Carnegie Hall Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, damaged by a tornado in 2002, and fortunately, reopened in 2006.
Pat and Marty Reynolds are two devoted Carnegie caretakers!

Psst! The secret DDC# is 027.4.

(L) Classified with a Dewey Decimal Number.

(R) Bricks tinted ochre.


An excellent site by Dr. Bob Kann gives Madison Public Library history.

(L) One of two in my collection (the other is Rock Island, IL) sent (1909) by the Johnson Service Company to tout its system of temperature regulation.
Its one-cent stamp has a perfin monogram.

(R) Auermiller photo; Heyrorth-Miller publisher.

This Madison Public Library, bearing a strong, unfortunate resemblance to a school, predates the replacement's location on Mifflin Street. Frank, Miles, & Day, of Philadelphia, were its architects. There was also a Sixth Ward Carnegie branch, which is still standing.

In addition, Madison has 8 branch libraries. When I lived there, many were in storefronts, but the circumstances have improved. One new building is the Sequoya Branch, which was very overcrowded 20 years ago.


(L) One of two in my collection (the other is Rock Island, IL) sent (1909) by the Johnson Service Company to tout its system of temperature regulation.
Its one-cent stamp has a perfin monogram.

(R) Auermiller photo; Heyrorth-Miller publisher.

Built 1902-1904. Van Ryn & De Gelleke were its architects. Replaced 1966.

The current (1998) building is handsome, but resembles a small factory. There hadn't been (strange, because the library has a great local history section) a library history page when I first added the Manitowoc cards, but now there is.


(L) There are a lot of northern Wisconsin photo cards that have the black bottom edge with carefully lettered information. Most date from the '30s to the '50s. I've been able to date the others from card details, such as cars, but I'm stymied by this one.
(R) Monochrome card, showing the whole side of the building.

Built in 1913; replaced, and now used for the city Chamber of Commerce.
This is a charming building in Prairie style, not as elaborate as the T.B. Scott Library in Merrill, or the Eager Free Library in Evansville. The details in the brickwork, the stucco, and the windows are beautifully executed. Letting the ivy cover them up is a shame, but maybe they saved a few bucks by skimping on the side decoration. Ivy is cheap.

Merrill (T.B. Scott Free Library)
Milwaukee (South Side Branch Library)

According to Larry T. Nix, Neenah received its Carnegie grant in 1901. Van Ryn & De Gelleke were its architects.  In 1964, one of those wrap-around additions was made. The combination was demolished in 1998.

(L) Maker unknown.

(R) Written on this E.C. Kropp card:

'This library is just this side of Shattuck Park a little below our home nearer town and we also see this from our windows. Fox River is back of it.'


1913 grant. Renovated in the 1990s, and still in use. Information from the Clark County pages of U.S. GenNet stated that the Withee Construction built the library in 1914. Still in use.


Oh dear. It looks like there are both fasces and a menorah over the front entrance.

Photo card shows that this is on

US 10.

Ivy obscures the trim on this photo postcard. I don't know what the object just to the right of the light pole is. It's too bulbous to be a fire hydrant. Perhaps it's a drinking fountain (bubbler)?

The ivy (Virginia creeper?) has gone berserk, and the added tinting makes the library look like a kudzu victim.

New London

Late 1903 grant: By 1907, the grant had not yet been used for a new building. Still in use with an addition. Replaced the earlier City Hall/Library combination, similarly as had Merrill.

(L) Curt Teich card.
(R) E.C. Kropp card.

Neither card is in the best condition: both required cropping for display.



Dates from a 1914 Carnegie grant. Its architects were Grant, Miller, Fullenweider & Dowling. Building no longer in library use, but has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, houses Southwest Engineering, and still 190 Market Street. 

Tudor stylings appear to be somewhat common among Wisconsin libraries. Not stylistically accurate, but attractive nonetheless, above the doorway is some nifty metalwork spelling out 'Public Library' in a rather neat font.

(L) By E.C. Kropp.
(R) By L.L. Cook.
The RPPC was mailed in 1960.


(L) A.J. Kingsbury specialized in postcards of north central Wisconsin, particularly Antigo, his hometown. However, this is the first Rhinelander card I have seen from his work.

(R) Postmarked 1924, and published locally for the United 5-10-25 ¢ store. The Labrador retriever in the front is an especially homey touch.

Possibly an L.L. Cook product.

B.H. Dingman card.

E.C. Kropp publication.

Dates from the 1908 Carnegie grant. Still in use, after a recent renovation.


Thanks to the Johnson Wax Company's HQ designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Racine has a reputation as a cool place in architectural circles. This is a 1904 Beaux-Arts contribution, designed by the St. Louis architects Mauran, Russell & Garden.

The Carnegie building was still standing in 2007, not looking abandoned, but not looking as if it's serving any particular purpose. 
Racine did obtain two Carnegie grants (per Bobinski), but the second building is Prairie style, and apparently was used as a barber shop after its closure.

Card layout and color choices resemble that used on the Duluth, MN card.


Yet another library of Claude & Starck design.
This one was completed in 1912 and funded from a 1911 Carnegie grant. It received a 1970 addition, but the Library now is in a building across the street from the old. Its current function is unclear.


Although it does not look like an E.C. Kropp product, it came from Milwaukee, and must have been produced shortly after the building's completion, as it was mailed in September, 1912.


In the 1980s, this Wisconsin resort community updated its Ven Ryn & De Gelleke Carnegie library to become accessible to patrons with disabilities. And it was crowded inside before the upgrade! Unfortunately it cost the building a space on the National Register of Historic Places.

Needs must.

Rice Lake

Similar to the Arcadia Carnegie Library: Parkinson of Sparta designed it. The tower evident on the upper righthand card may not be part of the library, but of a nearby building. The library building was added to the National Register in 1980, which did not help it escape the wrecking ball in 1986.

(L) Published for the Fair Store, mailed in 1919.
(R) E.C. Kropp card.


We need a photo card to tell us the truth about Rice Lake's Library. Note the wayward youth loitering in the perimeter. Not a one seems to be reading a book.
Look at the utility pole, cropped from the other cards. It has an original Wisconsin State Highway marker painted on it! It looks like route 23: this will merit further investigation.

Richland Center

On the front, in addition to the library caption:

This is a sample of our Zimochrome cards which we make to order from local photographs. 
Price in quantities of 500 of a subject $6.50. In quantities of 1000 of a subject $7.50. Time required for delivery is three weeks.

That's ¾¢ each.
The back message is also spiffy:

We have your order of Yrs. F. Grunkau and have entered same for immediate attention.
Awaiting your further favors, we remain,
Yours truly, H.G. Zimmerman & Co.

(L) Dates from the late 1940s or 1950s.

(R) Real Photo Postcard dated 1909.


Library dates from the 1903 Carnegie grant. It was a Claude & Starck design and was stylistically similar to Durand's 1905 library.

Replaced by the Brewer Public Library, not to be confused with the Brewer Science Library.
Richland Center also wanted to tear down the Frank Lloyd Wright designed A.D. German warehouse.
Sometimes progress isn't.


1902 grant. Charles Anderson of Waukesha was its architect: Indeed, its design is somewhat similar to Waukesha's Carnegie building, also an Anderson design. It was replaced in the 1960s.

(L) German postcard with an entire back.

(R) Leather post cards are not rare. However, this was the first leather library postcard I ever saw. Since it was never mailed, I don't have a clue as to its age. However, the small round tree is in the same place as on the card directly above, and is absent from the left-hand card.

Leather postcard of the Ripon Carnegie Library. This style was a fad around the turn of the 20th Century.

(L) ca. 1912 photo card.
(R) Author's 2004 photo.


The old library looks like a bank. The current library, shown on its web page, looks like a Lutheran church. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Its delightfully improved web site has a clear, concise timeline of the library's history.

2004 photograph of the Ripon Carnegie building, then used as an architect's offices.

Addendum: Recalling Ripon's history as a glove manufacturer, the leather postcard might be a legacy of those times. It's a good thing they didn't decide to make a card from tobacco. There was also a cigar factory in the city.

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