Wisconsin Public Libraries

Cities A-J

Paper mill barons are among the early philanthropists that funded the first Wisconsin public libraries. Therefore, many of the non-Carnegie libraries are located in the Wisconsin River or Fox River valleys.

In some cases, architectural information comes from Public Documents of the State of Wisconsin, Being the Reports of the Various State Officers, Departments and Institutions (1907).


Designed by W. A. Holbrook, and H. Wildhagen, of Appleton.

(L) E.C. Kropp card.
(R) Building that also served as city hall (1900 - 1939), when the library took over the entire building. Remodeled in 1954; replaced in 1981.


Its precursors were a privately funded reading room and a Free Library Association.

(L) Bedraggled K-Win postcard which differs from the card on R.

(R) Beautiful interior view by Souvenir Post Card, showing a reference desk, oak furniture, marble columns, and gasoliers. This was a totally irresistible card.

Beaver Dam (Williams Free Library)

B.E Lawton Card.

Postcard photographed from the northwest shows a glimpse of the railroad station.

Of the PCK series. Beautiful!

History on a Dodge County Historical Society website.  Nearly a hundred years later, it remained in use. It is superceded by the Beaver Dam Community Library, on 311 N. Spring Street.

Night view of its fountain.

The Williams Free Library, designed by Walter Holbrook, was built in 1890 and remodeled in the 1950s. The postcards make the building look menacing, but it doesn't look that way at all in person. Even though it now serves as a museum, the building is maintained well, although the railroad car to its east is a little jarring.

Boscobel (Hildebrand Memorial Library)

(L) Captioned as a Municipal Building. Why the smoke?

(R) The post card was mailed in 1932. If you could see the original, you'd see the building is located at the corner of E. Bluff St. and Wisconsin Ave. This is most certainly true.

Doesn't this combo look like a bank, especially with its hanging clock?

At one point, the Classical Revival Library's web site stated that this is a Claude and Starck building, dating from 1925. Of course, it went on to say it's a Carnegie Library. Its Blogspot post (10/6/15) still makes the claim, but gives details about some renovation.


RPPC, printed in reverse.  I flipped my scan to compensate.


Eventually, this arrangement was replaced. At least the store names allowed me to identify the city, as the card was never mailed.


In solo use as a public library today. The windows on the back wing have been bricked in.

(L) Northway's News Depot ordered this card, printed by E.C. Kropp. Pencil date, 12-28; the card style is ca. 1928.

(R) Cook-Montgomery photo postcard, mailed 1918.

This is a rare situation when a printed card is clearer than a photo.


Photo postcard.


The Library has progressed from being part of the city hall, to taking over the 1928 city hall building.


In use 1952-2003. There reaches a point where additions, retrofitting, and general futzing can no longer keep a library functional. The new building is turquoise! The Cudahy Family Library's exterior was designed by the architects Engberg Anderson.
Prior to 1937, Cudahy's library needs were served by Milwaukee Public Library.


The L.L. Cook photo postcard is also a local (Milwaukee) product.

De Pere

Card by the Wayne Paper Box & Printing.Corp., Fort Wayne, Ind. All that paper in Wisconsin, and they had to go to Indiana to get this card made?


This vaguely Tudor library was built in 1939, and served until 2003. It was subsumed into the Brown County Library, as its Kress Family Branch. This building is standing and occupied by a financial planner (2015)..

Delavan (Aram Public Library)

John L Klein postcard which looks like a Kropp job.

Lovely photo postcard with KARBO logo in the reverse.

E.C. Kropp linen finish postcard.

Courtesy of Larry T. Nix, I now know who James Aram was.

I do hope that the information about this 1907 building's design by Claude & Starck is correct. The source that I had used for that information had pegged this as a Carnegie building.


Another L.L. Cook card, another mid-century modern library.


Replaced in 1988, and now serves as a police station.

Elkhorn (Matheson Memorial Library)

Elkhorn's library service began with the Charles Edward Sprague Library, in the eponymous opera house.

Despite the apparent age of the card, the replacement building, on the land of the benefactor's birthplace, dates only to 1951. It needed additions in 1990 and 2004.

E.C. Kropp postcard.

Evansville (Eager Free Library)

The rarest of the rare: a non-Carnegie funded Seven Sister Claude & Starck Prairie-style library building. Still in use.

(L) C.U. Williams card is postmarked 1909.
(R) L. Van Wert postcard with message:

dont you think this is quite a Pretty building this is where we get our good books to read

(L) C.U. Williams postcard was postmarked in 1909.


Since 1977, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Evansville's Eager Free Library, built in 1908 by Claude & Starck, is still in vigorous use. An addition was made in 1995-6, per the web page 39WestMain.

Fennimore (Dwight T. Parker Public Library)

The city houses not only this library, but also the regional headquarters for the Southwest Library System. Unfortunately, for the first iteration of this page, I needed to get the scoop on the Claude & Starck building from the ever-useful Waymarking page. Today the Library adds other information, such as the occupation of Mr. Parker: banker.

It was built in 1924, and is considered Italianate, but retains some stylistic features of the previous decade. It is still in use without exterior modification.

The photo postcard is an L.L. Cook product, with exceptionally crisp detail.

Fort Atkinson (Dwight Foster Public Library)

(L) 'Blue Sky' style postcard.
(R) WWII era 'Clear View' Wayne Paper & Printing postcard, mailed 1944. Apparently these cards, printed during the war years, had a grey border, not silver (alumina).

Repeated failures to obtain Carnegie monies (and the approaching end of the program) led the Fort Atkinsonians to build their own Library. By 1931, a new children's wing was needed.

Fire damaged the building in 1945, but another addition was not built until the early 1980s.


The Library has moved into a former BMO Harris Bank building, which must have been a previous bank, as the building screams Mid-Century Modern. They're quite proud that they didn't need taxpayer money to do it. The building which had replaced the one shown is being converted into a community center.


The photo postcard is an L.L. Cook product, with exceptionally crisp details. You get a phone booth, and a bowling alley, and part of a feed mill.

Grand Rapids (T.B. Scott Free Library)

Prior to 1920, Grand Rapids was the twin city to Centralia. Both now comprise Wisconsin Rapids.


Two views of Grand Rapids, both showing the public library. On the left is the street view; on the right, the river view.

This Library's vintage rules are actually displayed on the McMillan Library (Wisconsin Rapids) website.
One should have been 'Do not attempt to direct traffic from the belfry, no matter how tempted you are.' The intersection of First St. North and Baker St. must have been a dangerous place.

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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.