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Libraries of Illinois
Cities C-D

Cairo (A.B. Safford Memorial Library)

A nice place to begin a page, with one of the state's most beautiful library buildings.

Unevenly divided card
with a 1906 postmark.

Linen-finish card from the '30s.

Modern chrome by
Ned's Photo Service of Vienna, IL.

Built in 1883, dedicated in 1884, and still in use (under very short service hours). There was a 1962 stack room addition, plus a 1984 Special Collections Room funded by the Oris B. Hastings Charitable Foundation, instead of the city, which was in tough shape by then.


From the newest card:

Dedicated in 1884, the Cairo Public Library's A.B. Safford Memorial Building at 1609 Washington is home to a diverse collection of over 50,000 volumes, including a nationally recognized Civil War Research Collection. The two story, Queen Anne style structure also contains museum quality sculptures, paintings, unique furnishings and interesting displays.


Various photos seen online show cleverly planned additions. Where the entrance is on this card, the steps are removed and a semicircular brick section added. The door was replaced by a window. The new extension comes off the side.


Unattributed photo postcard was mailed in 1938 to a collector in Davenport, IA.

Parlin Library

Neither card really shows the library well.
(L) Building obscured behind trees. Appears to be red brick.
(R) Curt Teich 'C.T. Photo Finish' card. I don't know why they called this card series that, as nearly every example looks like a pen and ink drawing.

The Romanesque building dates from 1892 and was superceded in 1957 by the Parlin-Ingersoll Library. The old library was recycled into use as a city building. It almost looks like it was built for that eventuality.

Parlin-Ingersoll Library

According to this Dave Lewis Studio postcard, this library is funded from the endowment bequeathed by Charles and Elizabeth Ingersoll, not by taxes.

This arrangement is more common in New England than in the Midwest.

But why no windows?


Previously housed St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, until 1926.
Served as the ibrary until 1957.
Currently used by the Unitarian Fellowship.


Curt Teich 'C.T. American Blue Sky' card dates from 1927, shortly after its first conversion.

Carlinville (Susan Dick Library Building)

Built sometime between 1914 and 1927. Replaced in 1997. Fate unknown.

(L) Photo postcard of Carlinville's library. There are no clues as to its date, but the lower left corner bears the notation 'BREGSTONE TV NO 27.'
(R) Slightly later photo post card, on Kodak paper. Why the vertical format was chosen is anyone's guess.

Carlyle (Case-Halstead Library)

Replacement underway in 2013, the date stamp on the Google View image. The old building was standing, and the neighboring lot cleared.

The most information comes from the card caption, which is well nigh illegible.

Case-Halstead Library;
Donated to City of Carlyle
by Eckstein Case, Carlyle, Illinois


Neither card does the dark brown brick building, located on Washington Street in Carpentersville, justice.


It still stands, in used as the Township's Park District offices.


On the defunct site Digital Past there was a very clear early photograph of the building. That maple tree in front looked to be at least 60 years old during the years we used the Carpentersville Public Library.

Merged with Dundee library in 1959 to form the Dundee Township Public Library District. 
(From the 1962 Dundee Township Library Prochure on the neat-o Dundee Area History section on Illinois Digital Archives.)

This was my favorite library as a child. It had lovely wood paneling, built-in bookcases, and newspapers mounted in slatted poles. There were real library tables and green-shaded reading lights. (Light is a relative term here.) It wasn't air conditioned, but it was cool even on the hottest days. The maple trees were mammoth by the 1960s. If I recall accurately, the entire children's collection was by the righthand windows, one full range parallel to the foyer, and a short range for smaller children underneath the front windows.
It didn't take a lot to make me happy, as long as I was in a library.

2008 photograph by the author, Judy Aulik. Copyrighted.

(L) Card was produced by MWM Dexter.
(R) Card advertising the previous occupant of the library's location, the Curtiss Breeding Service.


A reader, Greg White, filled me in on the Cary Library:

I grew up roughly 100 yards from that library, so I know the story behind it: The area in question is indeed in Cary, Illinois and was owned by the Curtiss Candy Company (who bought it from John D. Hertz of Hertz Rental Car fame). The plot of land was known a s Curtiss Farm #77, and was known for breeding prize bulls and was nationally recognized as the center for artificial insemination programs. In the mid 70's, the surrounding acreage was sold to developers and became the community of Trout Valley. The farm itself was donated to the Village of Cary, and after renovation became a complex that housed the police station, town hall, the Cary Community Center, and the Cary Library. The entrance to the library was through the side of the silo you have pictured on your site. A glass ceiling was installed about 8 feet off the ground, and upon entering the library you could look up at the entire length of the silo from the inside. The address of the library would have been on Stonegate Road. Sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's ..., the library moved to its current location on Three Oaks Road, which is a shame because although it is a much larger facility, it holds none of the charm of the old library.

Champaign (Burnham Athanæum)

Postmarked 1907. There are many cards of this building, but all are essentially alike, plus or minus chimneys.


Neither Champaign nor its twin city, Urbana, received Carnegie grants. The featured building having been replaced in 1977, Champaign Public Library again built a new facility, opened in 2008.

Clinton (Vespasian Warner Library)

Established 1901. This building was built between then and the 1911 postmark on this card. The Library was expanded substantially in 1992.


The card is another C.U. Williams 'Photoette.' Not all of these cards resemble the Curt Teich 'Blue Sky' line. Some are amber in hue.

DeKalb (Haish Memorial Library)

Built in 1930 and dedicated in 1931. You can't really tell its style from this (L) postcard. Curt Teich could make a corncob look Deco.
(R) Oh, how the mighty have fallen. One of the last Teich cards, published in 1981, shows more of the street (and a couple of ugly cars) than the library.

This is one of those Indiana Bedford limestone buildings, so common in Midwest municipal buildings.  Art Deco in style, it is still in use, but needs renovation/addition.

(L) An unusual photo postcard focuses on the building's entryway, and reveals some excellent bas-reliefs and other Deco trimmings.

Who was this Haish?
Jacob Haish, 100 year old barbed wire co-inventor, died in 1926, bequeathing the monies for the library. On the right is a shot of his home.


Des Plaines

Des Plaines Public Library's website is a work of art, as is its new building. The website even gives a complete and concise history. However, I was stymied as to which library this card featured, since the web page has no photos.


Recently, the Des Plaines Patch published a history of the Carnegie building, which was replaced in 1936. The municipal building on this card was built from WPA funds, and in turn, demolished sometime after 1958.


(L) Hugh C. Leighton product, also showing a woman driving a car.
(R) Dexter Press product shows the extension on the right and new landscaping.

Dixon's public library was built in 1900, and shows features from the last century's Romanesque style. Its long history is summarized on the library's web site. At one point the library contained an apartment for the custodian. I am unaware of any other library building that can make this claim.

One would like to think that President Reagan had spent some time with the collection.

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