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Allegretti Architects Office Building (St. Joseph Carnegie Library)

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St. Joseph Carnegie Library
1903–1904, William A. Otis; 1982 rehabilitation, Allegretti Architects. 500 Main St.

This delicate red brick neoclassical Carnegie library is the work of Otis (1855–1929), once a student of civil engineering at the University of Michigan and of architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Otis executed plans for this library during the period of his independent practice, between 1889 and 1914. Examples of Otis's work during his association with William Le Baron Jenney between 1882 and 1889 have been identified in Manistee ( MT3).

Like other designs by Otis, this library exhibits a scholarly historic treatment suited to modern requirements, beautifully proportioned and lightly detailed. The composition focuses on the corner entrance, which is like a simplified version of John Soane's Bank of England in London. Fan-shaped steps lead up to a concave entrance recessed beneath a dentiled and balustraded balcony, supported by fluted Ionic columns and Doric pilasters. The columns have a noticeable entasis, which adds a degree of elegance to the building. Pedimented pavilions with brick quoins and recessed round arches flank the entrance. The interior is distinguished by mahogany casement work, dentiled cove moldings, pilastered archways, and a central skylight. The library was built on a city-donated lot by Max W. Stock, a St. Joseph contractor, with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. Allegretti Architects rehabilitated the building for its own offices.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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