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Carnegie Free Library

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1913, Fred D. Crandall. 354 Michigan St.

Women’s groups played a vital role in bringing libraries and reading rooms to Wisconsin’s communities. Here in Sturgeon Bay, in 1901, a committee of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union formed a Woman’s Association to establish a reading room in a downtown storefront. The project grew into a full-fledged public library, with both local support and funding from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, whose foundation helped to construct sixty-four public libraries in Wisconsin and more than sixteen hundred across the nation.

Local architect Crandall designed the two-story building using two types of limestone in a vernacular version of classicism. The symmetrical facade features a projecting central entrance pavilion and an arched double-door entrance. The texture and weightiness of the boldly rusticated rock-faced walls, along with the stepped parapet, evoke a sense of fortification, whereas the refined classical details such as smooth Tuscan pilasters suggest the building’s elevated purpose. Much of the library’s interior remains intact. A vestibule with a mosaic floor features a Greek key pattern, and a broad oak staircase with fluted newel posts and spindled railings originally led to the main-floor reading room. That room, although converted to office space, retains many original details, including its tiled hearth and an oak fireplace with Craftsman influences.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.



Marsha Weisiger et al., "Carnegie Free Library", [Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 279-279.

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