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MERCANTILE LIBRARY BUILDING - Cincinnati, Ohio
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 39° 06.042 W 084° 30.670
16S E 715220 N 4330900
Quick Description: Historic subscription library in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Location: Ohio, United States
Date Posted: 4/30/2008 12:11:18 PM
Waymark Code: WM3PMM
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Rayman
Views: 36

Long Description:

The 12-story brick MERCANTILE LIBRARY BUILDING, 414 Walnut St., is rich in historical associations.  the land on which it stands is part of the "square" set aside by Losantiville's founders for religious, governmental, and educational purposes.  Here in 1816 the Lancaster Seminary was formally opened.  Four years later Cincinnati College and Medical College of Ohio were established in the seminary building.  Despite fires and a 10-year shutdown, Cincinnati College gave academic courses until 1845; thereafter only the law school operated, until it merged with the University of Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, on April 18, 1835, about 45 young men met "for the purpose of establishing a Library and Reading Room, to be appropriated to the use of young men engaged solely in mercantile pursuits." (At the time Cincinnati had no public library.)  Soon the founders of the Young Men's Mercantile Library Association raised $1,800 in subscriptions and bought 700 books; for a while quarters were maintained in a place on Main Street, near Pearl Street.

In 1840 the Association moved its 1,660 books to the second floor of the Cincinnati College building, on the present site.  Tallow candles and lard-oil lamps furnished light until gas was introduced sever years later.  On January 19, 1845, the building caught fire; members connected with the Neptune, Reliance, Water Witch, and Red Rover fire companies fought the fire and saved the book, though the entire structure burned down.

A new building soon arose on the site and the association was given a 10,000-year lease on second-floor quarters.  Membership increased fast, the peak coming in 1860, when 3,327 persons were on the list.  On October 20, 1869, fire wrecked this building.  Another took its place and survived until 1902, when it was torn down and the present structure went up.  Still in effect, and renewable, is the association's 10,000-year lease.

 ~ from Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, 1943, Tour 4, pg 173

The Mercantile Library continues to be located in this building on the eleventh floor.  The 10,000-year  lease remains in effect.  The remainder of the building is occupied commercial offices. (Note: The 10,000 year lease is not the longest lease in the world there is one in Ireland for 10 million years :-) )

Book: Cincinnati

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 173

Year Originally Published: 1943

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