Built in 1911, the Tooele Carnegie Library is significant as one of sixteen remaining Carnegie libraries of the twenty-three built in Utah. Thirteen of the sixteen library buildings maintain their original integrity and are included in the Carnegie Library Thematic Resource Nomination. In addition to making important contributions to public education in their respective communities, these libraries are Utah’s representatives of the important nation-wide Carnegie library program, and they document its unparalleled effect in the establishment of community-supported, free public libraries in Utah.
- Carnegie Libraries in Utah
- Tooele Carnegie Free Public Library (S.U.P. Historic Marker)
The Tooele Carnegie Library was built in 1911 with a $5000 grant from millionaire/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie funded the construction of over 1650 library buildings in the U.S., 23 of which were built in Utah communities. The conditions upon which all Carnegie grants were given were that the recipient community donate the building site and provide an annual maintenance budget of at least 10% of the grant amount. The city of Tooele
provided the books and building site for the library, and promised to provide at least $500 per year for the upkeep and operation of the library building. Designed by Salt Lake City based architect Frank M. Ulmer, the Tooele Carnegie
Library, which, complete with books, cost a total of $6500, was officially opened on May 10, 1911.
Although the Carnegie library was the first building constructed and used specifically for library purposes in Tooele, it was not the first library organized in the city. The Tooele City Library Association was first organized in February 1864 under a territorial legislative charter. Due to financial difficulties brought about by the Association’s involvement in the construction of a social hall in the town, the book collection was taken over by the Tooele (LDS church) Ward Ecclesiastical Board in 1878. Members of the library were assessed annual dues to cover the operation expenses of the library and to pay the $35 annual salary of the librarian. The library operated out of the social hall (known as the Opera House), which it shared with other community activities. A private, fiction library was opened in Tooele in 1893 by William C. Foster, secretary of the library association. Foster, who operated his library until his death in 1906, rented out books for a fee of 25tf per month. The $5000 Carnegie grant enabled the city to replace those private, user-funded libraries with the city-supported Tooele Free Public Library. It has continued to serve as the city’s library up to the present, although the original building was expanded in 1973 by a major addition on the west. Despite that addition, the building retains its original integrity.
The Tooele Carnegie Library is a long rectangular building set on a slight hill so that from the façade it appears to be a one story building, but it actually drops off to two stories in the rear. It is oriented gable end to the street, resembling a temple-form building, with a door centered between two windows, and has a portico spanning the façade. The low pitch of the gable roof, the domestic scale of the building and porch, and the use of fish-scale shingles in the gable section are reminiscent of bungalows that were being built at the same time. The symmetrical arrangement of openings on the façade, the returns of the cornice, and the wide frieze of the entablature, however, counter the domestic character and emphasize Classical Revival influences.
Alterations to the Tooele Carnegie Library include the addition of a large brick wing on the west side of the building in 1973, which cuts into the west wall of the library building, and the painting of the exterior brick walls (n.d.). These changes, however, do not substantially affect the original integrity of the building. The addition was set back far enough that the façade of the library is completely unaffected by the addition. The 1973 addition visually joins the library building with the 1867 stone Tooele County Courthouse/City Hall on the west, although the addition is joined to the courthouse only at the roof level and the two buildings neither share a common wall nor are connected on their interiors. The Tooele County Courthouse/City Hall was listed in the National Register in 1983.