In 1994, the a new public library debuted in the Chickasaw County seat of New Hampton. The single-story building offered more space, the ability to accommodate computers, and was handicap accessible. The new facility left the future of the community’s 90-year-old Carnegie library in question. Juanita Andersen, Volunteer Administrator for the Carnegie Cultural Center, writes about the process to transform the space into a Carnegie Cultural Center:
The City had no plans for our Carnegie building. A group of local people, however, were concerned about the possiblity that the building would be torn down or sold to a private individual. They saw the facility as a “community heirloom” that should be preserved in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie’s original intent – to serve the interests of the public. The building also links our small community to the other libraries across Iowa and the United Staes that are part of the Carnegie libraries phenomenon of the early 20th century.
To make a long story short, the group proposed using the facility as a Cultural Center to preserve, promote and honor the history and cultural legacy of the Chickasaw County area. A private, non-profit (501c3) agency known as the “Carnegie Cultural Center” was established. We continue to exist in a public/private partnership with the City of New Hampton. The City still owns the building and provides enough funds to pay for the utilities (when the weather is co-operative!) and it is up to the Cultural Center organization to do the rest.
Our grand opening occured in June, 1995. Since we are funded by donations and are powered by volunteers, we do not move at lightning speed. We were open for five years before the lower level was rehabbed and ready for use. Our permanent exhibits, which we market for tourism, are comprised for the most part of models and miniatures that in some way speak about life as it was and is in this area. Our temporary exhibits are targeted at the local community and have featured a very wide diversity of topics. We are also growing an archives of information, photos and specific artifacts that are available for historical or genealogical research.
Many, many people have given their hearts and energies to make the Carnegie Cultural Center a reality. In 1999, an endowment fund was established to help insure the Cultural Center’s future. Obviously we are still “growing” the fund, but, future expenditures from the interest generated by the fund may only be used to hire staff or help fund capital expansion.
The Carnegie Cultural Center is open this summer Wednesday through Sunday. For full hour details, or contact information to schedule an appointment, visit the center’s website.
The first ‘free’ public library in Eagle Grove opened in 1902, when a growing book location was created in the reception room of the local Masonic temple. Shortly after, the community was offered a $10,000 grant to build a public library building in Eagle Grove provided the city came up with a suitable location and a small tax to cover upkeep costs. The community spent $2,000 on the corner lot, construction began, and the new facility was formally dedicated in September 1903. It was used as a library until a new, single-story location was built in 1976.
The historic Carnegie building is now home to the Eagle Grove Historical Society and Museum. A fundraising campaign is underway to provide much-needed restoration to the century-old building.
The current Chariton Public Library building was dedicated with a grand celebration on October 28, 1904, a year after Andrew Carnegie pledged $10,000 for the library’s construction and just six years after a public library was first established in the Lucas county community. Designed by Chicago-based architects Patton & Miller, the library featured an interior layout unlike others being constructed at the time, with an arrangement so the librarian could oversee both main reading rooms from a single desk. The unique floor plan became known as the Chariton plan and was used throughout the country in the following years. A new addition was added in the 1990s; it doubled the library’s space, while retaining the architectural style of the historic building.
Located on the north side of the square in the Floyd County community of Charles City, the Carnegie library building was constructed in 1904 at a cost of $10,000. It housed the Charles City Public Library until 1979, when a new facility was constructed. Fortunately, the historic building has new life as the Charles City Arts Center, which features exhibits, studio and classroom space, and is open to the public four days each week.
Each month works from a regional artist are displayed, with a reception held the first Friday of each exhibition. Community members looking for space to create their art can use the center’s free studio space, open to the public at no cost on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Check out the Charles City Arts Center website for more information, including hours, current exhibition details, and upcoming special events and classes.
The first library in the Davis County seat of Bloomfield was organized in the 1870s in a second-story room within the Exchange Bank building on the northeast corner of the town square. Sixteen charter members of the library group paid five dollars for borrowing privileges, and a committee was established to grow the library’s collection. A grant from Andrew Carnegie was secured in November 1911, and shortly after, Bloomfield’s mayor appointed a Library board to oversee the building process. A site was selected and Des Moines-based Wetherell & Gage designed the $10,000 facility. The pressed brick and limestone building was dedicated in August 1913 and still serves as the library today.