Hillsboro Carnegie Library 1905

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

Hillsboro Illinois Carnegie Library
Hillsboro Illinois Carnegie Library

The new Carnegie Public Library was completed this week and on Monday of next week the building will be ready for acceptance by the library board. We publish in this issue of the NEWS, a photo engraving of the new building which shows the character of the building erected, and we will therefore not try to describe the structure, except to say that the detail, as will be seen, is a reproduction of the outside appearance of the old Hillsboro Academy, which stood for years just across the street, north of the spot where the new library is now located.

The Hillsboro Public Library is a reproduction of the outside appearance of the old Hillsboro Academy
The Hillsboro Public Library is a reproduction of the outside appearance of the old Hillsboro Academy

The new building is of grey pressed brick, and measures 35 feet ten inches including the beautiful porch which is 10 feet deep and 37 feet wide. The seven steps which extend the entire width of the building and up to the front porch, are made of granitoid, as is the floor of the porch. The four fluted solid stone columns shown in the picture measure 21 inches in diameter and are 15 feet high.

The building is a credit to any town and the interior arrangement is beautiful, roomy, light and could not be bettered. Upon entering the vestibule in front of the building, the first thing that attracts the eye of the visitor is the beautiful quarter sawed oak woodwork with which the interior of the building is finished. The big reading room with its two beautiful grates, one on the east and one on the west next attracts one’s attention. This room is 32½ feet square and around the walls can be seen the shelves for books, three shelves in height running around the room on three sides: on the north, east and west. These shelves are all quarter sawed oak and match perfectly the mantles over the grates. These mantles were made to order and measure 9 feet 9 inches in height by 6 feet 8 inches in width. On each side of the two grates to be found m the room are fluted columns with, Ionic capitals. the columns measuring 7 inches in diameter. The tile used in the grates is especially artistic being of a dark sea green color and of a velvet embossed finish.

The floor of the reading room is of oiled hard maple and makes a beautiful as well as durable finish. The white ceiling will be decorated at a later date. This ceiling is divided into nine separate panels with cross beams falling below the level of the ceiling, and with an electric chandelier at the intersection of these cross beams, making a total of four such lights in the ceiling of the reading room.

On the northeast corner of the first floor is the magazine room and on the northwest is a reference room, both of these rooms measuring 11½ feet by 9 feet, and these two rooms, together with the main reading room, contain 360 feet of shelving which will accommodate all of the books of our Public Library, and many more.

Fireplace mantle woodwork detail at Hillsboro Public Library
Fireplace mantle woodwork detail at Hillsboro Public Library

On the South side of the first floor, in the center of the building, is a secretary’s office, while in the southwest corner is a room provided for the Library Board. On the opposite side are the steps leading to the basement and also a small room to be used as a lavatory. The room for the librarian measures 15 x 11½ feet, the room for the Board 11½ feet and the lavatory 3 x 7 feet.

All of the woodwork of these rooms is quarter sawed oak, antique finish, and the circular desk in the librarian's office is very artistic.

The ceiling in all the five rooms of the first floor is 16 feet in height and finished white, ready for the fresco work.

A door on the east side of the main room, leads to the street, the exit being dimly shown in the picture which we reproduce herewith. This door also leads to the basement, where four big rooms are to be found. One of these rooms running the width of the building and measuring 22 x 32½ feet is to be used as a club room, while the room on the south of this is the furnace room, and still south of this room are two room, one to be used for fuel and the other as a storeroom. The furnace room is 12½ x 25 feet, the fuel room is 10 x 15½ and the work room 14½ x 15½ with a closet on the southeast which can someday be converted into a lavatory. The hall leading to the basement rooms measures 6½ x 22 feet.

The windows of the basement are of good size and afford ample light for reading or for any use to which the rooms may be put. There are four big windows on the east and four on the west of the main reading room on the first floor, and these windows measure 44 x 64 inches, while over these bill windows are art glass transoms measuring 44 x 64 inches, giving the windows a unique effect and permitting the very best plan for ventilation. The openings leading from the reading room or main room to the reference, the magazine and the librarian's room are 15 feet square and on each side of the openings are immense Grecian columns of Ionic design surmounted by carved capitals, all in quarter sawed oak, producing a rich and beautiful effect.

The extreme depth of the library is 76 feet 10 inches, by 35 feet 10 inches in width and it measures 35 feet 6 inches from the ground to the highest point of the roof. The base being of grey sandstone set on a twenty-inch foundation and the walls above are sixteen inches in thickness. The cornice and roof are made of pressed sheet steel, painted to match the grey pressed brick exterior. On the west side of the front door is a bronze tablet set in the face of the wall and on which is the following inscription:

Andrew Carnegie

Building Gift $10,000.00, 1904

Site Gift

John M. Whitehead

Board of Directors

Carrie M. Howell, President

Geo. A. Walter, Secretary

Nettie T. Douglas

Anna Chacey

Anna W. Bixler

Building Committee

C. A Ramsey

Amos Miller

C. H. Witherspoon

The first gift by Mr. Carnegie was $10,000.00 but this was increased to $11,000.00, as the cost of the building was greater than the amount first subscribed.

Source: The Montgomery News

Published: February 10, 1905


Librarians and Board Members:

Miss Ottie Gannon served as librarian in the old Reading Room until August 30, 1899, when she was succeeded by Miss Ada Gilmore. Miss Bertha Welge served from January 1, 1900, until the World War, when she was employed in the offices of the railroad company. Miss Jessie Best and Miss Jennie Hayes were librarians until December 1, 1921, when Miss Welge resumed the position until a short time before her death on December 10, 1924. Miss Lois Lyerla was librarian until 1939, when she resigned and was succeeded by the assistant librarian. Earl Rush.

Present members of the library board are:

H. J. Beckemeyer

Mrs. A. M. Howell

O. M. Hampton

Miss Ida Truitt

Miss Esther Challacombe

Chester Guthrie

Mrs. J. E. Y. Rice

Mrs. Walter McLean

Mrs. Edward Fellis

Source: Hillsboro Guide (1940)

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