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Superior holds Carnegie's first, last library in Wisconsin

In honor of the Superior Public Library's 125th anniversary, our local history librarian, Teddie Meronek, continues her story of Superior's turn-of-the-20th-Century quest for a dedicated library building.

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In honor of the Superior Public Library's 125th anniversary, our local history librarian, Teddie Meronek, continues her story of Superior's turn-of-the-20th-Century quest for a dedicated library building.

Andrew Carnegie spent almost 35 years giving communities across the United States the "best possible gift" -- a building for a public library. Wisconsin received 63 buildings -- the first and last built in Superior.

In 1900, the Superior Public Library board sent a letter to Andrew Carnegie seeking money for a library. The board had decided it was time to find larger quarters for its growing collection of books and hoped that Carnegie would assist in the task of "affording a liberal education to our people."

Before Carnegie would fund a building, he needed assurance from the library board and the city that a suitable site was available and local government would fund the library once built.

Since it had no funds available to purchase land on which to build the library, the board had to rely on the generosity of locals to donate a site. Offers came in from around town, but none of them represented the centrally located site the board had in mind.

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Finally, when the building project seemed to be at a standstill, Ogden Hammond offered property on the corner of Hammond Avenue and North 12th Street. Son of John Henry Hammond, the founder of West Superior, Ogden Hammond had been authorized by the Hammond estate to offer this family owned property to the library board. With three additional lots, provided by subscription, the board had finally found a new home for the Superior Public Library.

Once it was certain the site and funding were secure, the board received notice from Carnegie in March 1901 that Superior would receive $50,000 for a library.

Carl Wirth, who had designed the Grand Opera House, the New Jersey Block and the Hotel Superior, was chosen as architect for the project. Schmidt Bros. was awarded the contract for construction of the classically designed sandstone and cream-colored brick building, and by June 1902, Wisconsin's first Carnegie library was ready for occupancy.

In less than 20 years, Superior would again approach Carnegie with the hope of receiving additional funding for a branch library in the East End neighborhood. With the opening of the branch in 1918, Superior received the distinction of having the first and last Carnegie library buildings in Wisconsin.

Fiction: "All the Land to Hold Us" by Rick Bass, "Tumbledown" by Robert Boswell, "Twelve Across" by Barbara Delinsky, "Cat in an Alien X-ray" by Carole Nelson Douglas, "The Kill List" by Frederick Forsyth, "Queen's Gambit" by Elizabeth Fremantle, "The Last Kiss Goodbye" by Karen Robards, "Justice for Sara" by Erica Spindler and "Hidden Order" by Brad Thor.

Nonfiction: "Android Tablets in Easy Steps," "Finding God Beyond Religion," "The Fatigue & Fibromyalgia Solution," "Food Allergies," "Minnesota & Wisconsin Getting Started Garden Guide," "Eating on the Wild Side," "The Smart Shopper Diabetes Cookbook," "Country Living Decorating with White," "The Magic of Digital Nature Photography" and "A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II."

CDs: "Amelita" by Court Yard Hounds," "The Blessed Unrest" by Sara Bareilles, "Stars Dance" by Selena Gomez, "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City" by Kendrick Lamar, "Inspired: Songs of Faith & Family" by Joey + Rory, "Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and "Now That's What I Call Music! 47."

DVDs: "God's Country," "Now is Good," "Phantom," "The Place Beyond the Pines," "The Wedding Chapel," "The Central Park Five," "Angelina Ballerina. Mousical Medleys" and "Dinosaur Train. Nature Trackers," and on BLU RAY, "Niagara," "On the Waterfront," "The Place Beyond the Pines", "The Squid & the Whale" and "Scarface."

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Library hours are 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Superior; 2-7 p.m. Monday and 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Solon Springs; and 2-7 p.m. Wednesday in Lake Nebagamon. Call 394-8860 in Superior, (715) 378-4452 in Solon Springs, or (715) 374-3477 in Lake Nebagamon. Check out the library's website at superiorlibrary.org.

Sue Heskin is the director of the Superior Public Library.

Related Topics: BOOKSEDUCATION
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