Doorway to Rhinelander District Library’s historic beginnings
Star Journal Report
The Rhinelander District Library is one of approximately 2,500 libraries throughout in the world that exist because of Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. The Scottish immigrant made his fortune in steel and reportedly gave away more than $56 million to build libraries between 1883 and 1929. In 1902 Rhinelander’s library space had become cramped, and the city applied for and received funding – $12,500 – from Carnegie to build a new library.
Local lumber company Brown Brothers Lumber donated land, Rhinelander City Council allocated operating funds, the Rhinelander Woman’s Club added a guiding presence during construction and the Masonic Lodge laid the cornerstone, according the library’s website. That historical effort still stands today and the library board of trustees is taking steps to recreate a part that had been replaced during the mid-80s library addition.
“We approved hiring local architect Jeff Musson in December to restore the vestibule at the Carnegie entrance,” said board president and building committee chair Jane Roe.
Though designs for the vestibule are still in the planning stages, Roe said the exterior doors had already been ordered, so they were replaced last week. Last May the board voted to reopen the original entrance rather than spend money to repair and replace the atrium doors currently in use.
“The atrium doors are metal framed, set in concrete and they freeze every winter,” Library Director Virginia Roberts told the Star Journal then. “The concrete heaves, buckles and shifts.”
The Carnegie entrance features a cornice above, columns on either side of the door and a tile mosaic under foot.
Roe said she is excited to have the work begin, noting that “if people start to see things happening it might generate more interest in the library, and that would be lovely.” There will also be a second set of doors that will be more energy efficient than the existing doors. There is no timeline, at present, for completion of the vestibule area and Roe said there is no decision yet on how the current front entrance space will be used in the future.
“We need to get the new doors functioning, then we’ll have to decide what to do with the [other doors],” she added.
Roe said a bequest received by the library board will help with costs of the renovation project. The building committee will meet later this month and will then have a better idea of the next steps.