St. Charles library maintaining historic elements of Carnegie building

  • The wood panels on the doors of the Carnegie building at the St. Charles Public Library will be replaced with glass to be more consistent with the original structure.

    The wood panels on the doors of the Carnegie building at the St. Charles Public Library will be replaced with glass to be more consistent with the original structure. Courtesy St. Charles Public Library

  • An undated picture of the Carnegie building at the St. Charles Public Library shows the original glass inlay in the front doors.

    An undated picture of the Carnegie building at the St. Charles Public Library shows the original glass inlay in the front doors. Courtesy St. Charles Public Library

 
 
Updated 2/19/2021 7:45 PM

In the midst of an $18.6 million project to build a new facility, St. Charles Public Library officials remain committed to maintaining the historic elements of the Carnegie building right next door.

Part of that commitment includes restoring the front doors of the city's first public library to their original look. Library officials received approval this week from the St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission to replace the wood panels of the doors with glass to be more consistent with the original structure.

 

While there was hope that the library might be able to use the original glass, the staff was unable to find it in storage. In addition, the new glass will be safer, be more efficient and adhere to city code.

"Guess what? They're going to look just like the original glass," Commissioner Steven Smunt said. "I don't think anyone's going to be able to tell the difference. I certainly won't be able to if I'm out on Route 25."

Built in 1908 thanks to a $12,500 grant from steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the brick and pillared structure at the southeast corner of Main Street and 5th Avenue served St. Charles residents for decades and was granted landmark status by the city in August. The building now houses a local history collection, as well as study areas, conference rooms and an art gallery.

Because of the expansion and renovation of the previous library structure that began in April last year, the library relocated operations to the former Haines Middle School on South 9th Street. The new facility is scheduled to be completed this summer.

In addition to replacing the Carnegie building's front door panels with glass, the windows are being restored and tuckpointing is being done on the brick exterior.

"All the other doors surrounding the main door will remain the same, and the wooden structure of the door will actually remain the same," said Mary Merritt, the library's business office manager.

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