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.