Carnegie Library


112 North Hill Street

Designated as a Local Historic District on March 16, 1999

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998


The Carnegie Library was built in 1916. As originally constructed, it was a two-level brick structure with one large open room divided by arched partitions on the first floor and two additional public service rooms in the basement. The architectural style of the original building is an ornate Tudor Gable style. The front entrance is ensconced with decorative terra cotta masonry with limestone columns. The original entry doors were massive solid oak, a wooded paneled fireplace was located at the south end. The fireplace and ceiling are substantially in place. The library is noted for the use of Flemish Gable architecture used in its design, and the 3,500 square feet open vaulted room with a large fireplace.

The roof design is a steep and single ridge line truss-supported slate, accented at the north and south gables by quarter-circular decorative Flemish style terra cotta work and masonry brick work designs. The roof on the main building is the original 1916 slate roof with traces of decorative metal work and roof flashings.

The building has leaded glass windows which are worth preserving. One of the windows contains a stained glass depiction of an hourglass. Other windows in the series on the north end of the library include stained glass depiction of a scale and an open book. Tudor style arches adorn the terra cotta framed windows.

Additions and alterations were made, in 1937-1938, to the original design as part of a Works Projects Administration Project. The work included: asphalt tile covering the floors, radiators enclosed with grills, painted walls, window and screen repair, and a new window seat added. An addition was placed on the east side of the original structure, a mechanical room and a coal bin room were added to the basement level on the south side. Two murals were added by Crewes Warnacut.

SIGNIFICANCE

Construction of the library was made possible through a $30,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. Tentative plans for the building had to be prepared and submitted to the Carnegie Corporation for inspection and approval. The site on Hill and First Streets was donated by Fred G. Eberhart. The library opened for public inspection on May 5, 1916.The Carnegie Library was one of the last fully funded buildings to have been donated by Andrew Carnegie.

The Carnegie was the center of reading and education for the community. Before schools had their own library facilities, students by the thousands used the exclusive facilities of the Carnegie to attend story hours, take reading lessons, do research, check out books, read newspapers and magazines, and participate in other beneficial community activities. The children’s room of the library was the site for story hours that were presented every Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. The social room at the north end of the basement served as a meeting place for the Women’s Club and all civic and social organizations. The Carnegie provided years of entertainment and enjoyment for the citizens of Mishawaka. The library was closed in 1969. The City of Mishawaka has given the library a rating of outstanding.

The building is of the old English type of architecture, built of oriental brick with terra cotta trimmings and Queen Anne windows. The original contractor was Ingwold Moe of Gary, Indiana. The architect was A.F. Wilkes, also of Gary, Indiana. The architect of the additional work done on the building was Ernest W. Young of South Bend, Indiana. Some of the original building plans and specifications still exist and are safeguarded by the Mishawaka Public Library.

The library was purchased by George Kilbey, via an agreement with Beiger Heritage Corporation, in 1976. His son, Mark Kilbey inherited the property. When Mr. Kilbey attempted to sell the property to Carnegie Properties, a suit was filed by Beiger Heritage Corporation, which controls two easements on the deed for the property. Beiger wanted to exercise its right of first refusal on the sale. Beiger wanted to make sure the building’s original facade was maintained, a requirement set forth by their agreement with George Kilbey. A court battle ensued and judgement was granted in favor of Carnegie Properties.

Beiger Heritage Corporation appealed the decision and in June of 1996, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the St. Joseph County Probate Court regarding the sale of the Carnegie Library. This action awarded the right to purchase the library to Beiger Heritage Corporation. Beiger Heritage now has control of the Carnegie building.