Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From 1957: What to do with the old Lorain Public Library?

Late last month, Lorain's original library – the Carnegie Library located at Lorain's Streator Park – made the news. According to the article in the Morning Journal (here), "The city is in court trying to remove deed restrictions on the property in hopes of creating a plan to reuse the building."

Ah, some things never change.

Here's a couple of vintage articles showing that even back in the late 1950s, the city was trying to figure out what to do with the old building.

The first article (below) is from the November 22, 1957 edition of the Lorain Journal. At that point in time, the new Lorain Public Library at Sixth and Reid was about to open in a few days.


Council Must Decide What To Do With Old Library

Like an old mansion whose usefulness has given way to modern architecture the old library building at Streator Place has relinquished its place as Lorain's literary center to a new building at Sixth St. and Reid Ave.

The old building was dedicated May 20, 1904. There were 3,240 books. The money for the old building came largely from $30,000 donated to a fund by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, who gave money to build libraries all over the United States.

What happens now to the abandoned building is up to city council. When Streator Place was given to the city in 1895 by the will of Worthy S. Streator it was provided that the land should be used either for the construction of a city hall or as a park. Permission was granted from the heirs to build the library.

A committee has been assigned to study a proposal to make the building into a city hall. A request to provide $3,000 to finance a survey to study this possibility is being considered by council now.

If council decides that it would not be practical to move city hall to Streator Place, but would like to do something else with the building, permission of the heirs must be granted again.

There were attempts to establish a library in Lorain before the Streator Place building was built.

One of the earliest was in 1883 when library headquarters were set up in a downtown dentist's office. About 100 shares of stock were sold at a dollar apiece and shareholders were allowed to borrow as many books as they had shares.

In 1886 the circulation did not average a book a week so the books were turned over to the school board.

Through the years other attempts were made by church organizations and women's clubs but those libraries were also shortlived and ended by the books being donated to the school board.

The first library board was formed in April, 1900, when women from three library clubs and other interested persons in town elected officers. Mrs E. M. Pierce was elected chairman and Mrs. J. H. Hills was elected secretary-treasurer. Elected to the board as trustees were Mrs. W. R. Comings, Mrs. F. D. Ward, Mrs. F. M. McIlvaine, Mrs. A. E. Thompson, Mrs. F. P. Bins, Mrs. F. W. McIlvaine and George Wickens.

The newly-formed board soon established a Lorain Public Library Association of 50 members. The association persuaded the board of education to provide a tax levy. In 1903, $1,200 was allocated to the library association. And the same year the $30,000 was donated by Carnegie.

The first librarian was E.C. Loofbourrow. He served from 1905-1907. Since 1907 there have been six librarians.

Miss Margaret Deming, 1907-1910; Miss Francis Root, 1910-1924; Miss Elizabeth K. Steele, 1924-1928; Miss Evelyn Yeaton, 1928-1837; and Miss Marion M. King, 1937-to date.

A few years before the above article, Lorain had already explored the idea of converting the former library into a city hall. Here's an article (below) from the November 3, 1955 Lorain Journal.

May Be Future City Hall
City Officials Inspect Library

The city is moving ahead on its plan to use the old library building as a new location for city hall.

THREE CITY officials and two members of the library board made an inspection tour of the building yesterday afternoon with an eye toward adapting the building into a city hall.

Lyle Ziegler, president of the library board, and Atty. Dan K. Cook, vice president, both agreed the board will take definite action on a decision to give up the building at its next meeting Nov. 8. It is to be vacated early in 1957.

THE LIBRARY board is constructing a new building at Sixth and Reid. The old building, according to the terms of a will left by Worthy A. Streator, who donated the building to the library, will revert to the city for use as a city hall when and if it is vacated by the library.

City officials have been waiting for a decision from the library board before making plans to use the building.

OFFICIALS AGREED the building would require numerous changes to correct present faults and to remodel for city hall use. The building has twice as much floor space as the present city hall.

Large rooms in the building would have to be partitioned into smaller rooms for offices, officials agreed. Many of the large rooms would be suitable for use as council chambers.

If the building is vacated and not used as a city hall, or by the city, it will revert to Streator's heirs.

THE CITY HAS been holding up plans to remodel city hall since it was learned about the stipulation in Streator's will. Council approved a bond issue for $52,000 in 1952 for remodeling the hall, but the money was never borrowed.

Mayor Jaworski said the city's engineer's office will go ahead with studies of the library building after the board takes definite action at its next meeting.

1 comment:

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Eventually, it held the offices of the Lorain County Welfare Department-my mother was on ADC, and that's where we had to go for meetings with her caseworker. I remember the stacks of comic books they had on one of the windowsills.