La Porte's Carnegie Library

Research Library Research Library
 

Location: southwest corner of Indiana and Maple Avenues, La Porte

Dedicated: June 5, 2002


Front View

La Porte's first public library was established 1896. La Porte City School Board was awarded $27,500 Carnegie grant 1916; by 1919 local support had been secured to meet grant requirements. Architect Wilson B. Parker designed the Neo-Classical style structure. Library opened in 1920 with 30,000 volumes.

Back View

Renovation and expansion designed by architect William Koster; building dedicated 1991. Original 1920 section retained. Library has played a major role in community's development. One of the 1,679 libraries built in the U.S. with funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Indiana built more Carnegie libraries than any other state.


La Porte's Carnegie Library

In April 1916, three members of the La Porte City School Board, Oliver A. Ludlow, Louis A. Haverly and Frank B. Heusi, outlined negotiations which had been ongoing for several months to secure a $27,500 Carnegie appropriation for a new library building. The school board would have entire control of the enterprise and was expected to engage an architect who had experience in designing library buildings. The library fund would be used by the city to purchase the lot for the new building and the proceeds from the sale of the old building presently on the lot would go into the fund to help pay for the lot.

At this time, the library housed 22,000 volumes and the La Porte library was estimated to be larger than many cities twice the size of La Porte. The number of volumes circulated in 1915 was 51,638. This being a city library, membership was required from those residing outside the city for the privilege of taking books from the library. Nearly every teacher in the county was a member.

The City of La Porte came into control of the La Porte Library & Historical Association's collection June 3, 1896, and at the time, the library came under the jurisdiction of the La Porte School Board.

A transaction for the purchase of the property located on the southwest corner of Indiana and Maple Avenues in La Porte from Frank T. and Anna Roberts was entered into April 11, 1916, and filed for record the same day. It wasn't until 1919, that work on the new structure was to begin, the contract for the new construction having been let to Griewank Bros. on their bid of $29,568. Various other contracts were also let for plumbing, electric and the art model contract. These contracts totaled $33,499. It was absolutely necessary that the building be paid for out of the donation made by the Carnegie Corporation and the additional $10,000 from the city.

Wilson B. Parker was chosen as the architect and his technical description of the building was published in the local newspaper. The building was to be 92 x 46 in size of the one story and basement type customary in all Carnegie buildings. A design of colonial classic was adopted for the exterior, following closely the lines and detail of the New England collegiate work with dark red brick and white trimmings, the main portico of detached stone columns with much enrichment of the doorway.

Throughout the construction, there were delays. In May 1920, Griewank Bros. announced the previously announced completion date of June 1 would not be met and indicated it was impossible to foretell when it would occur. Throughout the summer months, newspaper accounts continued to indicate delays but by August 16, it was announced that if there were no more 'untoward' delays, the library would be ready for occupancy about September 1. However, it was not until November 5, 1920, the announcement came that the library would be open the next Saturday.

History presented by Fern Eddy Schultz

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