We’ve written about Andrew Carnegie and how he and the Carnegie Foundation funded many of the libraries in the United States. Carnegie Libraries were often build of stone and bricks. As libraries grow and need to expand, it is not always easy to expand these kind of buildings. Some Carnegie Libraries has been torn down, some have been repurposed for cultural centers and other community use, and others have been successfully expanded.
According to the Howell Library’s history section on its website, in Howell, the Ladies Library Association of Howell was established in 1875 operating a lending library from a rented house where the present library now stands. In 1901, W. H .S. Wood, a Howell postmaster and Howell Township Supervisor, wrote to Andrew Carnegie seeking funds to build a library. In January 1902, Carnegie offered $10,000 for a library building. As was customary in these agreements, the village or township would guarantee support for the public library and provide the suitable land.
Four McPherson brothers purchased the square of land facing Grand River and donated it for the library, to be surrounded by park space.
In 1902, architect E. E. Myers was hired to design the building and A. G. Kuehnle of Howell was contracted to construct the building. Cost problems ensued. Carnegie agreed to donate another $5,000 and more local funds were raised. In 1905, Malcomson and Higginbotham Architects of Detroit and C. A. Sauer & Co., a building contractor from Ann Arbor, were hired to complete the building which had its opening ceremony on November 19, 1906.
Tremendous Expansion and Renovation
In 1983, a bequest from Helen D. Meabon (1904–1983) of $66,000 to the library provided the seed money to plan a restoration, renovation and expansion of the existing library. Voters approved more funds.
The restoration and expansion of the building began in 1989. The building reopened on March 1, 1991. The new addition of over 22,000 square feet quietly complements the old Carnegie building of 8,000 square feet. The Carnegie building remains the focal point with the new addition in its background. In June 1993, the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association presented an Award of Excellence in Recognition of Distinguished Accomplishment in Library Architecture to the library and the architects, Osler/Milling Architects, Inc. Many others were involved in the construction.
In August of 2013, voters approved more funding for renovations and services that were mostly completed in 2015. The renovations were designed by Quinn Evans Architects and managed by the Christman Company.
Background and image from Howell Carnegie District Library