Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Springville Carnegie Library

     The first three years of high school I attended Livermore High in Livermore, California, a nice town about 45 miles east of San Francisco.  I think it was my sophomore year when we were learning about US history and I learned about Andrew Carnegie.  I heard that Carnegie, rather than giving off his money as an inheritance, decided to donate the majority of his money to different projects around the country.  I was especially surprised about a week later when I was downtown and found out that Livermore had been the recipient of one of those donations.  They had a nice park called Carnegie Park with a cool historic building in the middle.  Well, this week I found another such building, right in Springville, Utah.
     Carnegie immigrated to the US in 1848 with his family and settled in Pennsylvania.  He worked his way up through the steel industry and eventually become known as the second richest man in history after John D. Rockefeller.  He is also known as the "Patron Saint of Libraries."  He donated funds which supplied the financial backing for 1689 libraries across the US.  All that was required was that the city demonstrate a need, provide the land, books and librarians and pledge an annual 10 percent match to cover maintenance.  Twenty three such Carnegie libraries were built in Utah.
     On November 9th, 1916, the city of Springville become the 19th city in Utah to receive a grant from the Carnegie Corporation.  The grant totalled $10,000.  The library was designed by the architecture firm Ware and Tragenza (possibly spelt Tregenza) who had previously designed the library in Mt. Pleasant and would eventually design the libraries in Lehi and American Fork.  The architects designed the library using the prairie style, the architectural style made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright (an interesting side note on prairie style buildings.  I heard that one of Wright's assistants was from Utah, and after working with Wright returned to Utah to live and work.  That is why Utah has one of the highest concentration of prairie style buildings outside of the Midwest.  If you look around town, you'll find buildings everywhere built in this style.  For more info on prairie style architecture in Utah, click here).  The building opened in 1922.  Here is what it looked like in 1937:

Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

     Eventually the library was moved elsewhere in Springville and the building became the home of the Springville Chapter of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP).  I don't know exactly when it happened, but I found an article from the Deseret News stating that in 1989 the building was already being used by the DUP.  Here is a picture of the building as it currently is found (at 175 S. Main Street):

     It is a pretty cool building and is currently part of the National Register of Historic Places.  There are a bunch of tile on the top which give it an art deco/Native American feel.  You can tell that not much has changed since the 30's.  One of the significant differences is the statues around the building, which include a nice one a girl watering the flowers and Mark Twain which is fun to sit next to (which I always found ironic because he wasn't a fan of Utah).  Here are the statues:

     While walking around downtown, I noticed a lot of construction going on at the corner of Center and Main St.  I was wondering what it was and eventually came across the information that it is going to be the new Springville library.  It looks like a great building and will be a great addition to Springville.  For more information on it, click here or here.


  1. I got this message from the Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum: " The library became a museum in 1965 when the "new" library was built across the street. And now we have another new library being built. It originally had the white meeting house, a gas station, a fire station and now the soon to be new library. If you are interested in visiting we are open WFS 1-4pm."

  2. I used to read books at the old library before 1965 and remember the move.

    Statues like the Twain statue look like a good idea, until you realize that all this outdoor art makes it impossible to photograph these buildings from many angles. The art cannot be included in any media like Wikipedia Commons. Even your blog photography, if used to make a profit, would violate copyright "fair use" on the outdoor statues. Your lawyer wouldn't let you put them in a coffee table book, for example, without getting specific permission from the artists (you'd think all outdoor art would be fair game, but you'd be wrong). By contrast, the library CAN be legally photographed all you like.