My Town Monday: Carnegie Library

Of course, libraries are awesome just because they are libraries. But we have an extra-special library in Livingston County. We have a Carnegie Library.

Taken from the Michigan Historical Marker for the Howell Carnegie Library:

The Howell library association originated as the Ladies Library Association in 1875. That year, ladies began offering books for lending. The need for for spacious, permanent quarters grew, and in 1902, for three hundred dollars and railroad travel expenses, Detroit architect Elijah E. Meyers, designer of the Michigan State Capitol, agreed to provide plans for a new library. The township board hired local builder A.G. Kuehnle for the project. Throughout the county, farmers gathered fieldstones used to build the Neoclassical library. The structure stands on land donated by the four sons of Howell pioneer William Mc Pherson. An addition to the library was completed in 1991.

“If the city of Howell will pledge itself to support a free library and provide a suitable site, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to furnish ten thousand dollars for a free public library building.” In 1902, in reponse to a request for funds, steel entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie’s secretary sent this message to Howell Township Supervisor W.H.S. Wood. Carnegie funded over 2,500 free public libraries throughout the English-speaking world. The philanthropist’s gift to Howell eventually amounted to $15,000. In return, the township pledged annual support of no less than 10 percent of Carnegie’s donation. The library opened on November 19, 1906.

Now, if that’s not cool enough, the building looks awesome. The stonework is incredible. Apparently, there was some ugly remodeling done during the 60s (did everyone do drugs then?) but it was fixed later, restoring the library to it’s glory.

When they added on, the addition juts out the back. There are two hallways leading to the rear addition, but the inside walls of the hallways are the original rear of the building. How cool is that?
I was going to just poach some pictures from the library’s website, but instead, I’ll directed interested parties to the virtual tour. And they did a nice job on that, too!

There’s something truly wonderful about going to the Howell Library. From the neat old architecture when you walk in to the 1875 plat map hanging in the rear, and, least we forget, the books.

Like any smart library who wants to make sure they can keep their funding, the Howell Library has some computers and movies alongside the regular books and the audiobooks.

And there are teenagers who hang out on the front lawn day after day hour after hour. Wish they went inside, but at least if they’re hanging out in the middle of downtown Howell, they can’t get into much trouble. Too many witnesses. Not that they really cause trouble– though some folks are afraid of those rabid-looking teenagers.

But the library is still a nice place to go. I think, of all the libraries I’ve been in, the Howell Carnegie library is still my favorite.

My Town Monday started by Travis Erwin. Visit him for more My Town Mondays.

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