The Herald-Palladium from Saint Joseph, Michigan on November 3, 2002 · 42
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The Herald-Palladium from Saint Joseph, Michigan · 42

Saint Joseph, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 3, 2002
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6E"- SUNDAY, November 3, 2002 The Herald-Palladium Benton Harbor-St. Joseph TRAVEL Wm4 JXF" --"" Caraegie legacy &3 ; .. I 5 v.,; J, s-ff !:; Fr ;. . th IK "-H if fT:V. 1 I . Sf.-"f"-'v ' '."WfT"".''.. "'; '.' r ' I , - ---.. rTl-,y - 1- - ii - - ' ARCHITECT John Allegretto bought i;K- K. uf lOM -it -- rtf Jane Ammeson H-P Correspondent THE PASS DISTRICT LIBRARY'S Local History Branch was completed as a Carnegie library in 1909 at a cost of $10,000 Jt is located on Michigan 62 in Cassopolis. Local Carnegie buildings Here are the addresses of some local buildings that were originally Carnegie libraries: Carnegie Community Center, 129 S. Kalamazoo St., Paw Paw Dowagiac Public Library, 21 1 Commercial St., Dowagiac Cass District Library's Local History Branch, Michigan 62, Cas-sopolis . Allegretti Architects, 500 Main St., St. Joseph South Haven Center for the Arts, 602 Phoenix St., South Haven j . ... Nile-s Chamber of Commerce, 321 E. Main St., Niles . . ; - John Madill H-P staff the former Carnegie Library, on Main Street in St. Joseph, in 1985. The ClO CAD ih mnnaw HAnataH h etoal hrnrn AnHrciA P.arnonio I f ' - ' f' " 'J V : i Don Campbell H-P staff The building that now houses the South Haven Center for the Arts, at Phoenix and Broadway . in South Haven, was built in 1904 as a Carnegie library. The South Haven Arts Association leases the building from the City of South Haven. 1 Steel tycoon built 1,689 libraries throughout U.S. By JANE AMMESON H-P Correspondent When Johji Allegretti, a St. Joseph architect, first saw the sign, half covered with snow, he was surprised and intrigued. "I couldn't believe that it was available," he said, recalling his feelings upon discovering in 1985 that the old Carnegie Library was for sale. Within two weeks, the sale was completed. And Allegretti owned what was a fine example of Greek Eclectic Revival-style architecture. , The building, built in 1903 at a cost of $13,500, was one of 1,689 libraries, including 53 in Michigan, built by Andrew Carnegie, a steel tycoon, throughout the United States. Though Carnegie built libraries in major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Detroit, some 70 percent of his libraries were constructed in towns with populations of less than 10,000 people. And because small towns comprise the geography of Southwestern Michigan, this area received its share of libraries. Carnegie libraries were built in St. . Joseph, Benton Harbor, Cassqpolis, Dowagiac, South Haven, Niles and Paw Paw, and in LaPorte and Mishawaka in Indiana. Carnegie libraries, which through the years are estimated to have served more than 35 million people, according to the book "Carnegie Libraries Across America: A Public Legacy" by Theodore Jones (John Wiley & Sons 1997, S29.95), usually cost under S20,000 (still a large sum back then). And Carnegie, though he paid construction costs, left the designs of up to city officials. Remarkably, many of the Carnegie Libraries built in this area survive. Even more astonishingly, several arc still used as public librariesThe others were saved from demolition by being re-invented for other uses. The Carnegie Library in South Haven is now the South Haven Center for the Arts; the one in Paw Paw has become the Carnegie Community Center. The Four Flags Chamber of Commerce operates out of the one in Niles. When Allegretti purchased the old building on the corner of Main and Elm, it had fallen into disrepair. The library had moved out in 1 964 and the building had been empty for a while and then also been a youth center and a senior center. "We basically had to gut it," said Allegretti. But he wanted to be true to the building's historical, integrity, and researched old records to re-create such things as the color (the walls are a pale yellow and the dental-style crown molding white as they were back in the 1900s). He restored the old skylight. The triangular-shaped marble washbasins in both the basement bathroom and what is now the upstairs copying room are original. The plaster, though repaired, is original, as are the mosaics in the front entranceway (done in a Greek Revival, Socratic pattern that Allegretti describes as "very logical") along with the oversized wood front door. Allegretti was given the original plans by Marion McKenna of St. Joseph whose father, Gedrge Stock, built the library. The Carnegie Library for LaGrange Township was completed in 1909 at a cost of $ 1 0,000 and served' LaGrange as a full service library until 1993, according to M.E. Harper, director of the Cass District Library. Like the St. Joseph Carnegie Library, the entrance-way has a mosaic floor. Marble was used for part of the walls, and a curved staircase leads to the upstairs. Swinging wood doors lead to the main room, which boasts high ceilings, large windows with transoms and antique light fixtures. As befits a historical library, this one is now known as the Cass District Library's Local History Branch and is devoted to historical and genealogical research. For Jon Wuepper, a local historian who works at the library, it's the perfect place "to help people with history in a historical building." According to its very modern Web ite (www. cass.lib.mi.uslocalhistry. html), the library features three books on the establishment of Cass County and its history, as well as local newspapers, starting with the Cassopolis Vigilant, as far back as 1872. There is also a collection containing microfilm records of births and deaths dating back to 1867, marriage records as far back as 1830 and cemetery record books for burial locations. In Dowagiac; the old Carnegie Library, built in 1903 for $12,500, was combined with the new in 1973. Here, atop the new entrance, the old facade with its arched windows and pillars flanking what used the main entrance can be seen. A commemorative sign notes that the Beck-with Estate gave the land in 1904, and the building was a gift from Carnegie.' "We have a lot of interest from people because it was a Carnegie Library," said Audrey Sells, a librarian assistant there. At one time, the library even threw a birthday party for Carnegie who was, obviously, in absentia. When the South Haven Public Library moved across the street in 1959, the old neoclassical revival-style Carnegie Library, built in-1904 at a cost of $12,500, fell into disrepair. "It was a senior center for a while," said Michael Fiedorowicz, director of the South Haven Center for the Arts, "There was talk about tearing it down, but the Art Association approached the city about using -it.' So now we lease it from the city, which still owns it, for one dollar a year." . .. According to Fiedorowicz, the building was upgraded with new heating and plumbing as well as electricity. The Center for the Arts hosts art classes, holds concerts and also has an art gallery in the building. In 1902. a Classical Revival style (tU. Carnegie Library was built in Niles with a S 1 5,000 donation from Carnegie (his public library building program never had a formal name) and another. $3,500 for the land from the Niles citizenry. The building currently houses the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce and Council on Tourism. It is listed on the State Historical Register. An article, dated Aug. 5, 1903, in the Daily Palladium described the Benton Harbor Carnegie Library, which was built in 1 902 and razed in 1 969: "The library is a dream in architectural beauty and a model in interior 'arrangement. It is in the form of an equilateral triangle with the apex at the intersection of Sixth and Wall streets. The front is a circular . entrance, and the sides extend 85 feet each way to give the building the shape of an open fan. The sides are built of Bedford stone in buff and blue tints giving the exterior a striking and harmonious effect."-. Interestingly, the St. Joseph Carnegie library also is triangular in shape. Allegretti, who has read letters from that time about the construction, said that the shape, in part, is a compromise between whether to have the front facing Main or Elm. In nearby LaPorte, Ind., the library was expanded but, according to research librarian Jessie Affclder, the the Carnegie front was preserved. The library, which originally cost $27,500, 1 was built in 1916. ' . . The Carnegie libraries that survive are a testament not only to Andrew Carnegie, who believed in using his 'wealth for the betterment of humankind, but also to the people who came after and were determined not to let these pieces of history disappear into a pile of rubble, Tj, . J h On i

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