525 Main St | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

525 Main St

National or State Register of Historic Places
525 Main St | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Darlington Carnegie Free Library
Reference Number:100007661
Location (Address):525 Main St
Darlington Carnegie Free Library
525 Main Street, City of Darlington, Lafayette County
Architect: Claude & Starck
Date of Construction: 1905

The Darlington Carnegie Free Library is a fine example of a public library building of the boom era in public library construction in the U.S., 1895-1920. Nearly 100 public library buildings were erected in Wisconsin during this time, which coincided with the Progressive Era. Public libraries exemplify the Progressive idea of democratizing education to achieve social change for the benefit of society. During this period, Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie gave over $1 million to fund 64 library buildings in Wisconsin. Donations from state residents totaled $1million, nearly matching Carnegie’s generosity. The city of Darlington received a grant from Carnegie in the amount of $10,000 in 1904 and employed the distinguished Madison architectural firm of Louis W. Claude and Edward F. Starck to design its state-of-the-art library. The plans called for an open interior with bookshelves lining the exterior walls, a children’s room, a fireplace, and the librarian’s desk placed in the center, so she could supervise the entire floor from her desk. A classroom and a large lecture room in the basement were also important elements of the small town public library building. Claude and Starck were noted for designing many fine small public libraries throughout the upper Midwest. The Darlington Carnegie Free Library is an excellent example of their work. The Library is also important as a representative of the Elizabethan Revival variant of the Tudor Revival style, not often found in Wisconsin. Features of this variant include a brick finish trimmed with stone, a steeply-pitched roof, parapeted gables, and windows with diamond-shaped panes.

In addition, the Darlington Carnegie Free Library served the community for 95 years as an educational center. The Library hosted a full range of educational programs, from the weekly story hour to travelogues, to meetings of local organizations and clubs such as the Boy Scouts and the Lafayette County Historical Society. In addition, the Darlington City Council met in the basement of the Library in a room reserved for its use from at least 1920 until 1936, and the basement lecture room was the polling place for Darlington’s second ward until ca. 1982. Since 1999, the library has been the home of the Lafayette County Historical Society archives.

Period of Significance:1905-1971
Area of Significance:Education
Area of Significance:Architecture
Applicable Criteria:Event
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Education: Library
Architectural Style:Tudor Revival
Resource Type:Building
Architect:Claude & Starck
Historic Status:Date Received/Pending Nomination
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
National Register Listing Date:05/02/2022
State Register Listing Date:11/19/2021
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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