Moving into the Future by Respecting the Past by Dani Buehler

This is your library Central Montana. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and set the stage for how this institution came to be and the exciting developments that will take place to maintain this building. “In January 1897, the editors of the Fergus County Argus pitched their readers on the need for a library” (Hampton, p 45). After many years of a small community library traveling from space to space, a cry arose for a building to be built to support the needs of Central Montana. Subsequently, “in 1902 library board chairman Frank Smith, board members, and prominent citizens began writing to Andrew Carnegie to ask for a building gift… James Bertram, Carnegie’s secretary, finally replied favorably on January 19, 1905, offering $10,000 if the city agreed to the usual resolution for support and a suitable site” (Hampton, p 45-46).

And so it began. The local Tubb Brothers received the contract. And in turn, they designed the Neoclassical Revival building and employed the Croatian master stonemasons to complete the work. Although, the cost to construct our library ran over the original $10,000 by a whopping $4,000 (yep, it took only $14,000 to build this beauty in 1905), the library became a standout. Unique among Carnegie Libraries around the nation, the Lewistown Public Library boasts multiple flourishes and embellishments such as, “carved stone brackets under the eaves and handcrafted terracotta ornamentation above smooth- and rough-cut sandstone blocks” (Hampton, p 46). In other words, Central Montana you have invested in a one-of-a-kind beauty. You are incredibly lucky.

We here at the Library acknowledge the importance of this building’s history and the value it continues to hold for our community. That is why we are incredibly excited to announce that this summer we will be taking steps to preserve and restore some of the original building flourishes that make us unique. This preservation work is made possible by a grant from the Montana History Foundation and will be completed by Lewistown’s own, Benchmark Masonry. We here at the Library are forever grateful for the Central Montana’s investment in our services and we strive to maintain and cultivate your precious investment.

Original Carnegie Library stonework will be refurbished by Benchmark Masonry this spring.
Project funded via the Montana History Foundation grant recently awarded to the Lewistown Public Library.
Photo: Tom Ferris
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. (Clicking "Accept" will remove this message for one year.) Read More

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below, then you are consenting to this practice.